10,000 Island Project
Seymour has some very good friends in far away places. The students of Susan Kosko's 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade reading classes at Crafton Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA are the first in the nation to come to Seymour's aid in his time of need. Within days of hearing about Seymour's injury, these fine young people moved into action and before the week was out had already raised more than one hundred dollars towards Seymour's rescue and rehabilitation.
Seymour will need all the help he can get: one dolphin named Ginger that was cared for at the Mote Dolphin and Whale Hospital ate nearly 4000 live pinfish during her stay - that's 35 pinfish fed five times a day at about $1.00 a pinfish. Also there usually isn't much funding from official sources for rescues - most of those involved volunteer their time and expertise.
The story of how a dolphin named Seymour found such good friends at an elementary school in Pennsylvania starts six years ago. It was then that Chris Desmond partnered with Rocky Beaudry of Sea Excursions to begin the 10,000 Island Dolphin Project, an eco-tour that would involve the public in the effort to document the local population of bottlenose dolphins using a photo identification technique that folks at the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program had developed forty years before and used to such good effect in Sarasota Bay.
On the first trip of the newly christened M/V Dolphin Explorer a young calf was seen foraging in shallow water with its mother. We named it Seymour because in the days and months to come we would see it more often than any other dolphin.
Five years later, Seymour's mother has had two more calves, Seymour is on his own and the Dolphin Project is thriving when a remarkable teacher named Susan Kosovo joins us for a survey trip while vacationing on Marco Island. Since that trip , Susan and Chris stayed in touch and developed a way for her students, hundreds of miles away in land locked Pennsylvania, to participate in the dolphin project. Available internet technologies like Skype and Ipads bring them on our boat and us into their classroom.
Using Skype, our biologist and naturalist James Livacarri calls them up from the boat several times a week and they have a conversation about some aspect of the local bottlenose dolphins and their habitat. Sometimes the kids get to see the dolphins in action. Susan develops lesson plans, activities and reading matierials related to the talks. Across town, Laurie Zimmerman at Carnagie Elementary does the same thing with her 3rd and 4th grade classes. Both classes named dolphins born this year after their schools.
During one recent discussion James talked to the students about human impacts on bottlenose dolphins and the dangers of feeding dolphins and monofilament line and other litter in their habitat. He used Seymour's injury as an example of the some of the dangers that dolphins face.
And then something remarkable and remakably hopeful happened: the students got to work on doing what they could to save this dolphin. Within a few days, these kids who are not much older than Seymour, proudly announced to James that they had raised over a hundred dollars to help in the rescue and rehabilitation of Seymour. Their teacher Susan is working with local Pizza Hut to widen the effort. Their spirit has inspired us on the Dolphin Explorer to begin a fund raising effort in our area to help Seymour.
Who says kids can't make a difference?