From: Jill Gralow, Reuters
Published January 3, 2005 12:00 AM

Two Dolphins Trapped by Tsunami in Thai Lake

KHAO LAK, Thailand — Rescuers failed on Monday to catch two rare dolphins trapped for eight days in a small lake in southern Thailand after they were swept more than a kilometre inland by giant tsunami waves.

The exhausted dolphins, one of which appeared to be injured, were dumped in a 300 metre by 200 metre lake left by the wall of water that struck Thailand's Andaman Sea coastline on Dec. 26.

"I'm pretty sure there are two dolphins. We see one frequently, but the other one is more shy," said Edwin Wiek of the Wildlife Rescue Unit of Thailand.

He believed they were swept ashore in the first or second waves and were stuck behind a 4-5 metre embankment about 1,400 metres (1,500 yards) from the sea.

"When the water retreated, the dolphins probably could not follow and swim out," said Wiek, adding they appeared to be Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins, also known as speckled dolphins, found mainly in the Indian Ocean or western Pacific.


About 50 rescuers -- including a team of Greek divers in Thailand to search for corpses hidden in similar lakes -- tried to corner one of the dolphins with a net, but failed.

"He slipped away twice and we gave up. We need a bigger net to lock him in," said Wiek.

He said the dolphins had probably been without food since they were trapped. Rescuers, who will return on Tuesday, tossed fish into the murky water to try and keep the animals alive.

The Indo-Pacific Humpback has a long, slender beak and gets its name from the fatty hump under its dorsal fin. Adults grow to about 2.0-2.8 metres and weigh about 150-200 kg (330-440 lb), according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Scientists view the dolphins as broadly threatened by habitat loss, pollution and hunting.

"They are very rare and that is a second reason to get them out and back into the sea," Wiek said.

Source: Reuters

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