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Baker D: Dolphin finds his true home


Nov. 17, 2004: The Marine Mammal Center successfully rehabilitates and releases bottlenose dolphin into Monterey Bay

Baker D, as he was named by rescuers from The Marine Mammal Center as well as local life guards, was rescued on September 15, 2004 at Baker Beach in San Francisco. At the time of Baker D's rescue, the three to four year old male cetacean was underweight, suffering from dehydration and had a puncture wound on his rostrum. When he was transported to a rehabilitation pool at the Center, he didn't have the strength to swim on his own and was put into a floating support sling to prevent him from drowning. Through antibiotics, medications to help stabilize his heart, and weeks of round-the-clock care and feedings from volunteers and veterinarian staff at the Center, Baker D regained his health and could swim on his own.

On November 12, the process to release him began when veterinarians attached both satellite and radio tags on the eight-foot-long juvenile's dorsal fin. The tags helped marine biologists monitor his travels, diving patterns, and would give them an alert should he re-strand. His rehabilitation and release is a significant achievement for  the Center because less than 10 percent of dolphins and harbor porpoises rescued survive. On November 17, he was released into Monterey Bay just off of Moss Landing. He was released within the vicinity of approximately 20-30 bottlenose dolphins. Baker D was quite active after his release. At one point, he was tracked northwest of Point Pinos in Monterey as well as at the Channel Islands. He gave us a bit of a scare over that Thanksgiving weekend when he stayed in the same place for three days just off Santa Rosa Island, possibly indicating he was in trouble. Then on December 4, his radio tag alerted researchers at Moss Landing Marine Labs that he was diving regularly near Point Conception. He continued to hang out near the Channel Islands which was a bit puzzling for researchers. 

On February 24, 2005 we learned something new about Baker D and why he seemed to favor the Channel Islands! The Southwest Fisheries Science Center notified us about Baker D's genetic sample: he appeared to fit genetically with the offshore stock of dolphins. This is wonderful news because it explains why he did not stick around with the dolphins in Monterey Bay. We stopped receiving transmissions from the satellite tag at the end of January 2005. On Feb. 18, marine biologists boarded an airplane and successfully found Baker D via his radio tag which was still working. They could not see him, but they did see a big pod of around 70-100 dolphins, and from the radio transmissions they think he was a part of it. He was diving normally and his radio tag sounded fine.

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