has been given to dolphins and how they are being affected
by the ecological disaster occuring in South Florida.
In the last 50 years, the severe degradation of the South
Florida ecosystem, particularly Florida Bay, has resulted
in an 80%-90% decline in other top predators such as brown
pelicans, herons and alligators. Sixty-eight species of
the Everglades mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and
plants are threatened or endangered. Dolphins are top
predators, too, and may depend on many of the fish populations
now in decline.
largest ecosystem restoration project ever attempted in
the United States is underway. This restoration effort
intends to restore historic water flow patterns and water
quality along with recovering endangered species and habitats
over a 20+ year period. No one knows what impacts these
changes will have on the dolphins. Currently, agency managers
overseeing the restoration efforts have no baseline information
about bottlenose dolphin numbers, preferred habitats,
seasonal movement, food requirements, or reproduction.