Saturday, August 6, 2011

Interrupting your Saturday: The Greatest Dolphin in the Whole Wide World

I'll keep this short, but I just found the cutest picture of my favorite dolphin, and I had to share it with you guys.

Photo Courtesy of Alex Mancini
This is Astro, a rough-toothed dolphin I had the honor of getting to know while I worked as the Director of Education at Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach, FL from 2006-2007. He was rescued off the coast of Texas after he stranded in 2005, and he was deemed unreleasable after he was diagnosed with scoliosis of the spine. (Who knew dolphins could get it, too?)

He has some pretty sweet digs at Gulf World these days. He's a fully-functioning member of the park's seven member rough-toothed dolphin pod, AND he has his own personal chiropractor. He's a lovable staff favorite, I visit him every time I go back to Panama City Beach, and he still seems to remember me, all these years later.

This pic was recently posted on Facebook by a guest who visited the park, and Astro can be seen clowning around with his very own traffic cone--one of the many objects given to the animals on a rotational basis to enhance environmental enrichment and stimulate critical thinking.

Wanna know more about rough-toothed dolphins--my absolute favorite animals?? Check out this great background article from Steno bredanensis, Rough-Toothed Dolphin.  Environmental enrichment information is also available in this break-through publication by Robert J. Young, Environmental Enrichment for Captive Animals.

Feel like totally nerdin' out? I can talk about this stuff for hours!


Lora R. Rivera said...


I had no idea they could get scoliosis, too. I suppose in the wild, it would just get worse and he'd die prematurely? Or just be in a lot of pain? Poor Astro.

Anita Grace Howard said...

Awwww! He's gorgeous! Thanks for posting the pic. And I see you've started a new WIP over there. CONGRATS!!

Beckah-Rah said...

I left you a present on my blog!!

LisaAnn said...

@Lora: It's he the best?? And he was my first introduction to scoliosis in dolphins... If you look at him from above, his spine does a definite tilt to the right and then the left before straightening back out. I guess the curvature affects speed and maneuverability, which would have put him at risk with both predators and prey. As part of his chiropractic care, he presents his flukes to his trainers, and they actually lift him out of the water by his tail and let him bob there for a little while like a buoy. Literally "straightening" him out!

@Anita: Thanks for visiting! And yes, I'm finally trucking away. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

@Beckah: Woohooo! On my way there now!

Alleged Author said...

Too cute! I've always wanted to pet the dolphins. Used to love going whale watching because the dolphins would frolic in front of the boats.

LisaAnn said...

@Alleged: That was always my favorite part about whale watching trips, too! The whales were just an added bonus. :)

Lola X said...

Great Blog!!! Love it!!!

Lola x

The Tame Lion said...

Wonderful! Awesome!

LisaAnn said...

@LolaX and The Tame Lion: Nice to meet you, and thanks so much for stopping by! :)

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