May 28, 2009

Rare Pink Dolphin Spotted In Louisiana Shipping Channel

A rare albino bottlenose dolphin has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico near a Louisiana shipping channel.

The pink-pigmented dolphin marks only the 14th to be reported worldwide, and the third in the Gulf, biologist Dagmar Fertl of Plano, Texas told the Associated Press.

"Something comes up and you say, 'Wow! Did I just ...?' Then he comes up again and you say, 'Yeah! I just saw a pink dolphin!'" said Wesley Lockard of Rayville, La. Who first reported the sighting in June 2007.

The dolphin makes regular appearances in the channel, and is extremely easy to spot amid gray dolphins.

"We see him on a pretty regular basis," said Roddy Blackburn, crewman and relief captain.

Michael Harbison, a state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist said the pink dolphin only seems to appear when he isn't looking for it.

It usually appears alongside four adults, said Harbison. Dolphins habitually surface for a moment to breathe before diving back below the waves for up to 10 minutes.

Fisherman Randy Smith told the AP he watched the pink dolphin for about 90 minutes while it swam along with an adult that was assumed to be its mother.

"It was unbelievable," said Smith.

The dolphin is said to be at least two years in age, and the sex is unknown, although most people refer to it as a male.

Biologist Mandy Tumlin of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries welcomes all reported sightings of the rare dolphin because it helps add more crucial details, but onlookers should stay at least 50 yards away, she said.

"As rare as this is, we're trying to get as much as we can (about) this one individual," she said. "We definitely want to protect it and keep it safe."


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