tampabay.com

Dolphin rescued from speedo

By TIMES STAFF WRITER
Published August 5, 2006


So it turns out extra-large Speedos are a danger to more than just good taste.

A bottlenose dolphin in Sarasota Bay became ensnared in a pair of extra-large Speedos recently, prompting a rescue effort by 30 staff members and volunteers from Mote Marine Laboratory.

Mote staff members saw the dolphin, nicknamed Scrappy, swimming with a piece of black material around its torso, about a month ago.

They captured the dolphin Thursday and removed the cloth, a ripped but otherwise intact Speedo.

The garment actually put the dolphin at great risk. The drag created by the skimpy suit inflicted wounds on the front edge of the pectoral flippers.

"These injuries probably would have become infected, the material would have continued cutting deeper into the dolphin's flippers and would have caused the dolphin's death had we not been able to help him," said Dr. Randall Wells, manager of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program.

"This is a serious situation for the dolphin and is a reminder that anything we humans use near the water can affect marine mammals," Wells said.

The staff decided to help Scrappy after monitoring him and consulting with federal authorities.

Mote officials said Scrappy somehow swam through the waist and leg holes of the suit.

"Dolphins are very curious creatures," said Martha Wells, a spokeswoman for Mote. "He was probably just playing with it."

Officials said Scrappy was doing well after the Speedo was removed.

But the bigger questions left unanswered: How did the Speedos wind up in the water? And has their original owner found other cover?