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Commercial fishing endangers dolphin populations
Date:2/4/2010

also examined the behavior of living dolphins by carrying out 232 marine surveys over more than 3,000 km. along the central coast of Israel. The dolphins' stomachs contained mainly non-commercialized fish, suggesting that they perhaps do not compete directly with the commercial trawlers, and that the commercial fishing does not directly affect the dolphins' nutrition.

The living dolphins' behavior, on the other hand, draws an entirely different picture. According to Dr. Scheinin, most of the dolphins were observed around the trawling boats: the chances of observing a school of dolphins near a trawler is ten times higher than in the open sea. This is because the trawler serves as a "feeding station" for the dolphins: there they are not able to feed from the more expensive loot caught in the nets, but they are able to enjoy schools of other types of fish that swim around the trawler. "The problem is that this type of fishing endangers the dolphins. Eight dolphins die each year off the coast of Israel on average, and of those, four die after having been mistakenly caught in trawling nets. Seeing as many studies have proven the high intelligence of the dolphin, it is clear that these sea mammals are aware of this danger, but are left with little choice due to their need to search for food around the trawlers due to the scarcity of other food sources," Dr. Scheinin explains.

This conclusion is reinforced by the suckling female dolphins. These dolphins require larger quantities of food than usual, and despite the risk for the younger and much less experienced dolphins that swim by their side, all of the suckling dolphins have been observed significantly more frequently around the trawlers. This indicates that they could not obtain enough food in other places.

The dolphins off the coast of Israel spend most of their time in search of food while their mates in other areas in the world are far busier with social activities. This fact is yet another
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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert  

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