Letter to the Editor - August 10, 2017
Deceased dolphin on DI sparks educational journey for reader
There was a dolphin laying on the marsh by the Daniel Island pier on June 6. I was showing my son the island, the trails and the Wando River, when walking down the pier he noticed a white mass on the grass. It was low tide so we walked down to investigate. It was indeed a dolphin, laying still on its side, with that playful look on his face, his smile like an upturned comma. It broke my heart! It looked intact and thinking that maybe it got stuck on dry land I tried to push it with my sandaled foot into deeper water – but it was too heavy, didn’t move, didn’t show any signs of life. I went back home and I looked in the Daniel Island Directory and called the SC Wildlife Department, 825-3387 and left a message. Then I called the SC Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which responds 24 hours a day including holidays. The following morning the dolphin was gone.
I lost track of what happened to that dolphin until Linda, this wonderful DNR field staff person took it upon herself to track it down for me. The biologist/veterinarian who examined the dolphin could only give a brief, inconclusive synopsis, because the dolphin was already decomposing when he examined it. Then he put me in touch with Dr. Wayne McPhee, from NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) who had run several tests on the dolphin. The only conclusion was that it had liver disease because its blubber was yellow, an indication of liver infection.
I also learned that when dolphins die they sink to the bottom unless some water movement or tide dumps them to shore. Dr. McPhee cautioned against going near wildlife because it could harbor bacteria or viruses harmful to humans. In my zeal to protect wildlife, which sometimes needs protection from humans, I was reminded to be careful, and keep handy the DNR Central Dispatch number, 800-922-5431.