Dunham the bottlenose dolphin was attacked by sharks and euthanized this Tuesday just 3 hours after being released from Florida’s Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Experts nearby monitoring the dolphin said he was attacked by at least two different sharks, and that the wounds were life-threatening. They euthanized him immediately upon arriving at the scene.
The dolphin had been kept at the aquarium for 8 months prior while recovering from a severe case of pneumonia. Re-releasing Dunham had always been the priority of caretakers, though no one expected such a sudden and tragic death after investing so much into his rehabilitation. Certainly, they would have preferred not to euthanize him, but after witnessing his wounds experts said the dolphin wouldn’t have recovered.
Researchers were able to arrive at the scene quickly because they were monitoring the dolphin with a VHF radio transmitter at the time of the attack.
Every release involves unpredictable risks, and the report didn’t indicate how the shark attack occurred, nor did it speculate about whether it may have been due to any abnormalities in the dolphin’s condition– though sharks rarely choose to attack a healthy dolphin.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a nonprofit organization which has successfully rescued, rehabilitated and released a number of dolphins, turtles and sea otters in the past. “We’re at a loss for words,” said Diane Young with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Image Credit: kalandrakas on Flickr under a CC License