Subject: Dolphins/Texas:1998 Expected to be a Bad Year (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Sun, 4 Jan 1998 12:29:11 -0500 (EST)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat,  3 Jan 98 20:36:00 GMT 
From: r.mallon1@genie.geis.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: 1998 Expected to be a Bad Year

1998 Expected to be a Bad Year for the Dolphins
Art Show to Benefit Dolphin Rescue Fund

    GALVESTON, Texas, Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Dolphins, whales and
other marine mammals along the Texas Gulf Coast are facing a
potentially grim year in 1998 due to unusual historical trends and
stormy weather patterns brought about by the El Nino phenomenon.  The
Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, a nonprofit organization that
rescues and rehabilitates dolphins and whales stranded on Texas
beaches, is gearing up for a winter season that is expected to bring
a record number of marine mammal strandings along the Texas, Mexico
and Louisiana coastlines.
    "The El Nino weather pattern is expected to bring a cold, stormy
winter to the Gulf coast which will increase the likelihood of marine
mammal strandings, especially live strandings," said Dr. Graham
Worthy, State Director of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network,
the only group authorized to handle marine mammal strandings in Texas.
"We've already seen an increase in the number of strandings in
December.  Add to this the recurring pattern of increased strandings
in even numbered years, and we realize that the Network must be
prepared for a winter which may break our record in 1994 when we
recovered 300 dolphins from our beaches."
    Rescue and rehabilitation efforts to keep a stranded animal alive
can cost up to $400 a day and hundreds of hours of volunteer time.
To prepare for a season that could cost in excess of $400,000 to
save the stranded animals, the Network is launching a major fund
raising effort with the opening of "Whales Over Houston", an art
exhibit featuring the bronze whales and dolphins of internationally
renowned sculptor Randy Puckett, of Salinas, CA.
    "Whales Over Houston", sponsored by Continental Airlines and The
Dow Chemical Company, opens at the Texas Commerce Bank Tower in
Houston, January 12 and runs through January 31. The event features
40 of Puckett's sculptures which are available for sale, ranging in
price from $400 to $40,000.  The opening gala will be held Thursday,
January 15 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Texas Commerce Bank Tower,
600 Travis Street.  Puckett will join the festivities to unveil his
newest sculpture "Beginnings".  Proceeds from the sale of tickets
and Puckett's artwork will go towards the Dolphin Rescue Fund which
will provide the resources the Network will need to keep the rescued
animals alive.
    "The increase in Texas strandings this December was almost twice
that of 1996 and may be indicative of what we can expect in 1998,"
said Worthy.  "When we see single events like the recent mass
stranding of 60 dolphins in Florida, in which at least a dozen
animals are known to have died, we get very concerned about what we
may have to deal with in Texas."
    The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, one of several similar
organizations across the United States, is a network of volunteers
dedicated to the research, rescue and conservation of marine mammals.
The Network rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals that strand
along the Texas Gulf Coast, providing food, medical treatment, and
24-hour observation and care to nurse the animals back to health.
Though most of the animals are unfortunately not found alive, the
research provided by studying them provides valuable insight into
our coastal environment.
    "Because bottlenose dolphins, like humans, are at the top of the
food web, research studies on these mammals provide valuable
indicators into environmental problems that affect not only their
health and survival, but human health as well," explained Worthy.
    While the Network is gearing up for a record number of strandings
in the coming year, officials are hopeful that the predictions are
wrong.  "If we had a mass stranding today, like the one in Florida,
we would not have the resources to save many of the animals," said
Lance Clark, Operations Coordinator for TMMSN.  "Membership dues,
foundations and corporate support pay most of our operating expenses.
But when we bring in an animal that costs $400 a day to keep, we are
literally scrambling for the funds to keep the animal alive.  We are
hoping that Texans from across the state will help by supporting The
Dolphin Rescue Fund and the 'Whales Over Houston' exhibit."
    For tickets and information about "Whales Over Houston", or to
make a donation to the Dolphin Rescue Fund, call 1-800-9Mammal.