NATURE NICHE: A Mama Mia dolphin for sure

Nature Niche pic-3-14-13

Special to the Parade

Our dolphin tribe, the tribe of the lower Laguna Madre area, are experts at catching fish. They don’t even use their eyes to do so. They use their built-in radar, sonar. Because of this super human power, you will find them in the muddiest water feeding.

If there is clear water or muddy water close to each other, they are almost always feeding in the muddy water. Why? Because they are using their super sight to catch their food and not their eyes. Only one problem. Those sharp, round pointy teeth that snap up those fish so well start to wear down with age. So as our dolphins get older, and they can live up to 50 years, their teeth can wear down.

One dolphin we found passed on early on in my years with them, her teeth were wore down to the gum line. She was 40-plus. I did not know her very well, but I know she provided her family with years of wisdom and that they helped to feed her in her last years.

I often see the youngsters giving fish to the elders in the tribe, and this is a good thing for all of them. I have come to know the elders in this tribe quite well, and just the other day a youngster swooped up a huge mullet in the shallows of the shipping channel and gave it to Canopener, who has to be at least 30-plus years old now. She tossed that big mullet around, and one of the dolphins came and bit the head off of it and she kept the rest. Then she came over to the boat and let that fish lay right next to us. With my camera ready, I filmed her coming back up to take it in her mouth. Everyone on the boat was amazed and thought she might be giving it to us. It is how they give me fish, with the head gone. But I knew this old girl needed her fish, and after leaving it near us several more times, just floating there, she grabbed it and swam off with it.

Here, she is giving the fish a toss before they beheaded it; you can see her wore-down teeth. I love this old girl, and she has taught me so much. She is a Mama Mia dolphin for sure. They all are! It’s our nature niche.

Editor’s Note: Scarlet Colley is the director of the Sea Life and Nature Center located on 110 N. Garcia St. in Port Isabel. Call (956) 299-1957 or visit Scarlet on Facebook at Dolphinwhisper.

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