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MYSTERY OF THE DOLPHIN DESERTER

sillydoll

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This is a lovely story on an aquatic peregrino visitor to the Galician coast.

MYSTERY OF THE DOLPHIN DESERTER

He was trained as a spy for the U.S. Navy in the Azores and his destination was the Persian Gulf, but he escaped. In Galicia, where he sought refuge he drives the fisherman crazy with his pranks and scares the local divers. He is a loner who deviates from the other dolphins.
“He appears to be trained” says Antonio Folgar, a biologist and president of the Group Marine Mammal Rescue (Gremmar).
Since the 50s, the Americans trained dolphins, primarily to detect mines or explosive devices under the hulls of their boats. In 2000, a group of them were trained in the Azores to ensure the fleet in the Persian Gulf. But things went wrong. During naval manoeuvers four dolphins escaped and only three were recovered. The fourth one was lost in the waters of the North Atlantic heading toward Europe.
The elusive deserter was first sighted in the waters of Ribeira (A Coruña)on January 4, 2008. "We have a bottlenose dolphin that is silly," alerted the Maritime Rescue specialists Gremmar.
"He was quiet, watching the people," recalls Folgar. "When a boat passed he swam close to the turbine.”
In July he moved to Vigo and Gremmar gave him a name - Gaspar. They began to speculate about the possibility that the 25 year-old, 400kg bottlenose dolphin had military training.
The tracks on his home led to the Marine Mammal Program of the U.S. Navy (USNMP), which was consulted by email. They confirmed the lineage of Gaspar with very brief answers. Yes they knew the dolphin. Takuma (as he was called before) served in the MK-6, the cetacean specialist unit to protect ports.
Takuma (Gaspar) is a genuine product of American military captured "very young" in the ocean. The effect of military training, Gremmar explained, is a "cutting of conduct." Gaspar is a lonely Contumazá. Not the least interested in the pods of fellow dolphins who roam the Vigo estuary. His "civilian" life is a string of anecdotes, “fruits that "recalls the lessons learned." Says Folgar.
Before that in Galicia, the dolphin was seen in Britain. On another occasion he entered the military zone of a port, which is reserved for vessels of NATO. The soldiers were nervous and machine guns appeared on deck. Some time later, an awkward question about the visitor arrived at the French Parliament.
The Vigo estuary, according to Gremmar, is the place where he has spent more time. He remained there until November, chasing the wake of passenger boats and motorboats. In July 2008 he gave a great fright to a diver who works in the yards of the estuary. The man turned around to feel a touch on his shoulder and in front of him was a dark mass of 400 kilos.
Gremmar requested permission to monitor Gaspar and his position in real time, but met with silence. During the months when the dolphin remained in the waters of Vigo, the only way to control it was just waiting for it to appear.
"The U.S. Navy has acknowledged that they tried to recapture the Dolphin in France and Spain," says Folgar. “After several unsuccessful attempts they have decided that it is impossible.” A carelessness that has left Antonio puzzled. "Training is very expensive. To get an idea, to train and keep a dolphin in a dolphinarium costs 30,000 euros per year."
In mid-November he left the shelter of the Vigo estuary and began the journey north. Nobody knows the reasons for his change of direction. In recent weeks has been going up the Galician coast, "routinely stopping at all ports," said Antonio Folgar. Where there are engines, is where there is the bottlenose dolphin, which looks at this stage to have several scars on his face, caused, in all probability, by the fishing gadgets that he has become entangled in.
The last notification received on the whereabouts of Gaspar-Takuma, on December 14, came from the Asturian port Cudillero. Since then, total blackout. No trace of the cetacean American spy.


http://www.elmundo.es/suplementos/croni ... 70162.html
 
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