Thursday, October 15, 2009

ETSSTAWG Chair sends a letter to COA Minister concerning the recent death of a Humpback Dolphin

Dr Peter S. Ross, Chairman of the Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG), has sent a letter to the Minister of the [Taiwan] Council of Agriculture (COA), Chen Wu-hsiung, concerning scientific investigations into the recent death of a Taiwan Humpback Dolphin. As studies on the critically endangered population of Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Dolphins [Taiwan Humpback Dolphins] have been limited there is still much to learn about these unique dolphins and open scientific investigation of this deceased individual is of great interest to all researchers, both locally and abroad. Open scientific investigation of the deceased individual offers the opportunity to learn much about these poorly known dolphins. We will be monitoring developments closely and sincerely hope the COA will approach investigations in an open manner and ensure that credible investigations are undertaken and that findings are shared internationally.

Below is a copy of the letter sent by ETSSTAWG Chair, Dr Peter S. Ross, to Minister Chen Wu-hsiung. Our thanks to ETSSTAWG for allowing us to post their letter on the Taiwan Humpback Dolphin blog.

Minister Mr. Chen Wu-hsiung
Council of Agriculture
Sept 27 2009

Dear Minister Chen Wu-hsiung:

I recently learned of the death of one individual member of the IUCN-designated Critically Endangered population of Eastern Taiwan Strait Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Taiwan. This individual was found on the shore adjacent to the important habitat of this very small population, which numbers fewer than 100 individuals.

While a single mortality in this population is most unfortunate, it is of the utmost importance that open scientific investigation be encouraged on this individual. In recent years, two major research groups in Taiwan (Formosacetus and Taiwan Cetacean Society), both with strong ambitions, and excellent capacity, have been conducting research on free-ranging members of ETS Sousa. As Chairman of the Eastern Taiwan Strait Technical Advisory Sousa Working Group (ETSSTAWG), I am mandated to encourage dialogue on the best possible science in support of a better understanding of Sousa and its habitat. Without excellent scientific research, and open communication among all parties, the chances of survival for the ETS Sousa population are greatly reduced.

There are many scientific investigations that can be carried out on a stranded (deceased) individual to determine the cause of death, as well as to provide insight into the remaining (living) members of this unique population. Some investigations that can be carried out include:
- Gross pathology;
- Genetics;
- Parasitology;
- Disease investigations;
- Reproductive status;
- Toxicology (contaminants);
- Basic biology;
- Condition.

The ETS Sousa population deserves the best possible scientific investigations. The ETSSTAWG is monitoring the present situation with regard to this specimen, and will continue to advise and act on behalf of the ETS Sousa on behalf of the international scientific community.

The ETSSTAWG looks forward to learning more about the cause of death of this individual, and will look very favourably indeed upon improved dialogue among the many excellent research and other organizations active in the area of ETS Sousa biology and conservation.


Dr Peter S. Ross
Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group

*A similar letter has also been received from Dolphin Care UK.

Also see:
Taiwan Humpback Dolphin Beaches and Dies on the Coast of Tonghsiao

Update: Taiwan Humpback Dolphin Beaches and Dies on the Coast of Tonghsiao

No comments: