Monday, January 10, 2011

Moby Solangi Part III IMMS

In 1984 Moby Solangi founded The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS). The Non-profit organization, located in Gulfport Ms, is the top stranding organization in the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. IMMS's Center for Marine Education and Research,  offers on-site public education, conservation, and marine mammal research, along with a state-of-the-art veterinarian hospital and additional facilities to rescue and rehabilitate stranded marine mammals.
The organizations hold a number of education courses that offer the public, school age children, and interns a chance to learn about marine mammals and ocean conservation. These courses include: on site field trips, a community outreach program, a marine biology class, and an internship program.
 IMMS conducts research on marine mammals both in the wild and in captivity.  Studies such as population dynamics, effects of human interaction, ambient noise measurements, and genetic diversity are just a few studies that IMMS is part of in wild dolphin populations. Studies being conducted on captive dolphins include: Mother and calf interactions,  dolphin-interaction programs and how it affect the behavior of bottle nose dolphins, impact of long-term storage of the fish fed to dolphins, and a host of health related studies.

 I must say, I find most of these studies sad! The studies done on captive dolphins would never be needed if these dolphins were not held in captivity to begin with. Impact of long-term storage of the fish fed to them...REALLY? These studies cost money, money that normally comes from donation or grants, why are we spending money for this sort of thing? Why not do studies on how and what it would take to release animals that had been labeled Non-releasable? Why not spend money to actually help these creatures get back home?

 IMMS claims to be a conservation organization, but in the conservation tab on their website the only thing there is beach clean up days and annual festivals were other conservation groups can go and  spread awareness about their groups (I wonder how IMMS would feel if Sea Shepherd asked to attend?). IMMS may in fact, do other things in terms of conservation, but judging by their website, I am not seeing it. Beach clean up is a great thing, and spreading awareness is very important, but that is not conservation, its outreach.
 Since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, IMMS has rescued, rehabilitated and released many endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. The turtles were equipped with satellite tracking devices, that will allow researchers track the turtles migration patterns. A person can keep track of the tagged  turtles on the IMMS website. The IMMS list over 50 sea turtles that the organization has rescued, of these 4 died, 15 are still remain under their care, over 10 have been released of the coast of Mississippi, and more then 20 have been transported to Florida. I(I am not sure what is done with these animals, I am hoping that they are releasing them, but it doesn't say either way.)  IMMS has also conducted necropsy's of dead animals found from the spill.
 IMMS is also the stranded and beached dolphin rescue organization for the area. Under their rescue section there are 9 different stories of dolphin rescues. One story is of the Marine Life dolphins, which I have already talked about. One is Cayenne's story, which I have discussed as well. 2 of the stories are of dolphins being trapped and the rescuers helped them back to where they needed to be. The other 5 stories are of animals in bad shape, and IMMS took them back to their facility for medical treatment. Of these 5 dolphins, 3 died and 2 survived. If you add Cayenne in with the 2 that lived, that a total of 3 living dolphin. All 3 of these dolphins were deemed non-releasable and where sent to facilities to live and work. Cayenne to Marine Life, Moke to The Navy's Marine Mammal facility in San Diego Ca., and Cajun to Gulf World Marine Park in Fl.  These are the only dolphin Rescues that IMMS has listed on its site, if there are more, we are unaware of them. I truly hope that there are more, and these dolphins were treated and released because from the data they have provided, they have rehabilitated 3 dolphins and released none, which is what their goal is supposed to be.
 I wanted to point two facts listed under the FAQ section of IMMS's website. I feel that the questions are important, and the answers are very interesting..

22) How intelligent are dolphins?
Intelligence is defined as 1 a)  the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, b)  the faculty of thought and reason.  More simply put, it is the ability to learn, understand, or deal with new or trying situations; and the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.  It is also defined as the ability to think abstractly.  Quantification of intelligence is difficult to do, and it is especially difficult to compare across species.
   We can say from experience that dolphins are fast learners and seem to be able to generalize some of the information they learn.  However, to date there is no evidence to suggest that dolphins or any other living species is as intelligent as humans.  Contrary to popular belief, brain size is not an indicator of intelligence.  Complex brain structure is more closely related to level of intelligence in a particular species
I personally find this answer disturbing. With all the studies that have been done on both captive and wild dolphins for researchers around the world, there is extremely strong evidence that dolphins are highly intelligent. For IMMS ,who are supposed to be dolphin experts, to not grasp this bothers me.
29) What is the current "success rate" of rescuing and rehabilitating dolphins?
This is a difficult number to quantify and measure in a standard and systematic way. As mentioned above, though most dolphins and whales that strand have a very small chance of survival, the individual animal’s chance of survival depends largely on several factors. The most significant of these factors include what condition the animal is in when it is discovered, the species of the animal and the expertise of the staff and facility that respond and care for it.

 This to me is IMMS totally avoiding the real question. The question is what is the success rate, simple stats are all that is needed. They could even break it down to types of injuries, diseases, condition the animal is in, a number of things. If they rescued 10 dolphins and all of them had conditions which there was no way to save, I am sure many would applaud the effort. But if they are saving 10 dolphins and then all those animals are deemed unreleasable and they are sold to facilities, This would be a problem. With all the dolphins in captivity and all the studies that are being done on captive dolphins, if we are not LEARNING how to save them, then how can anyone justify keeping them?

I can not say that IMMS is a bad facility, because I do not have proof to back it up.  It appears that IMMS has done some work, including their work on the sea turtles, that has been very beneficial. I am very thankful for their efforts to save beached and stranded animals. But with the Founder, President, and Executive Director, being Moby Solangi, I question their motives. The facts are the facts. Moby Solangi was in the business of capturing and trafficking dolphins. This is something that no one can deny. It seems very interesting to me that the man who once captured dolphins for both profit and display is now heading up the organization that rescues them along the gulf coast. I wonder were Moby will be getting his new dolphins for his new oceanarium...

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