Magazine article National Wildlife

Documenting the Dangerous World of Dolphins

Magazine article National Wildlife

Documenting the Dangerous World of Dolphins

Article excerpt

The National Wildlife Federation has set sail for the high seas and has taken actor Bridget Fonda with it to meet several species of dolphins and the marine biologists who are shedding light on the enigmatic lives of these aquatic mammals.

The whole experience was filmed by National Wildlife Productions, NWF's television and film-production division, yielding its first hour-long program in the new documentary series Wild!life Adventures. Called "Dolphins in Danger," the film airs in September on TBS Superstation and chronicles Fonda's adventures as she explores the perils that dolphins face in a human-dominated world.

An estimated 500,000 dolphins die yearly from toxic pollution, entanglement in fishing nets and food shortages caused by commercial-fishing depletion of many fish stocks. In "Dolphins in Danger," Fonda travels to British Columbia's Vancouver Island, where she learns how food shortages are affecting survival of the killer whale, or Orca, largest of the dolphin species. She also visits South America to observe the little-known pink river dolphins of the Amazon and swims with wild spotted dolphins off the coast of the Bahamas. The film concludes at the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Galveston, Texas, where Fonda meets Cole, a young bottlenose dolphin that beached along the Gulf of Mexico in 1995.

Fonda also participates in the release from captivity of Nemo, a 25-year-old male dolphin found on a Texas beach suffering.from respiratory illness. Though biologists initially thought Nemo too old to survive, he was treated at the stranding center and recovered his health. Fonda swam in gulf waters with stranding-center personnel when they released Nemo. As the film shows, the experts were surprised when Nemo, prior to rushing off to his home waters, swam to each of the people releasing him, as if in farewell. …

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