By ALAN KUHNAPANANENThe Associated Press – MELBOURNE, Fla.
(AP) — When dolphins in a Florida bay are threatened, it’s time to talk about fish.
Scientists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say they are hearing from people who want to save them.
“Dolphins are an important part of the ecosystem in Florida, and it is important that we protect them,” said Cindy Ochs, the commission’s fisheries science director.
“But there are other things that we can do to help them, too.”
Dolphins, or ichthyosaurs, have been endangered in the United States since the 1970s.
But scientists have long argued that they have not been a major threat to humans.
Ichthyosaurs can swim as far as 400 feet and have been sighted in Florida.
Some are so big that they can reach the ocean floor, though they rarely make it back to the shoreline.
Dolphins in the Everglades, the eastern part of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico are among those being studied.
They are known for their long, dark beaks and can swim up to 500 feet and are seen swimming in swarms.
They can grow to lengths of more than 10 feet.
Dolphin scientists say it’s possible to control the population by breeding them.
But keeping them captive is not an option.
They also are endangered in other parts of the world, like China, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed them as critically endangered.
They are threatened in only about half of the countries where they are found.