Eight bottlenose dolphins that were washed out of their Mississippi aquarium pool during Hurricane Katrina have been found alive, huddled together in the fetid waters off Gulfport, Miss. Now, deeply worried about the dolphins' chances of survival, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials and aquarium biologists are racing to rescue the weak and wounded animals -- some of which have never before ventured into the wild.
''These animals found us, they came back after Katrina . . . they came home," said Moby Solangi, director of the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport. ''All eight are together. It's the most wonderful news."
Established in 1956, the facility suffered catastrophic damage in the storm. Along with the dolphins, 19 sea lions were swept out of their pools when a giant storm surge engulfed the Oceanarium. Five of them are missing.
I remember seeing some dolphins on CNN, swimming around in a hotel swimming pool. They were there for safe-keeping. It's heartwarming that the dolphins may be saved, but the news is much worse at the NO Aquarium.
The storm, however, proved too devastating for some shoreside facilities. Emergency generators at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans failed after a forced staff evacuation, resulting in the death of most of the facility's 6,000-fish collection, including some 9-foot sharks.
Some in the media are still having trouble with geography. The NO Aquariam can hardly be described as "shoreside." It is, however, fairly close to the river. Maybe that's what he meant.