A new addition to Dolphin Quest has put in an appearance — and another is on its way.
A male calf was born to Brighton last Tuesday after a 366-day pregnancy. Another dolphin, Ely, is due to give birth soon.
A spokesman for Dolphin Quest said: “As with any newborn, the first weeks are critical. Our animal care team will continue to closely monitor moms and calves around the clock.”
She added that the births were a good reason to visit the attraction in Dockyard.
The spokeswoman said: “While the Dolphin Quest team has observed successful dolphin births over the years, most people have never seen a newborn dolphin calf up close, watched the dolphin pod care for a young calf or observed how the dolphin nurses while swimming underwater.
“Dolphin Quest is inviting visitors to witness this very special time in a dolphin’s early development and to join its efforts to better understand and improve the odds for wild dolphin babies.”
The mothers and calves will help scientists understand the problems faced by wild dolphins through Dolphin Quest’s work with academics.
Dolphin Quest has published fetal growth charts as well as neonatal physiology details and information on dolphin behaviour and development.
The information is distributed to oceanariums, zoos and aquariums around the world and is also used by biologists studying the impact of pollution on wild dolphin reproduction.
Holley Muraco, a marine mammal reproduction specialist and the director of research at Mississippi Aquarium, said: “Reproduction and calf-rearing is important for dolphin welfare.
“It is a natural and enriching social behaviour for dolphins in the wild and in modern zoos, aquariums and marine life parks.”
Dr Muraco added: “Accredited facilities like Dolphin Quest have excellent reproductive success which leads to long-term population sustainability and eliminates the need for collection from the wild.”
Dolphin Quest has also given more than $5 million of support to marine mammal conservation.
Last year, Jason Bruck, a scientist from Oklahoma State University, started a study at Dolphin Quest on the animals’ field of vision to help improve guidelines designed to avoid boat injuries to wild dolphins.
Dr Bruck said: “This ongoing study will also provide biologists with new drone technology to safely collect non-invasive hormone samples from wild dolphins, providing further insights into their reproductive status.
“The critical vision data collection and drone development taking place at Dolphin Quest would be impossible to conduct in the wild.”