Dolphin dies at SeaWorld San Antonio; third death in three months

a dolphin performs at SeaWorld San Diego in 2012
A dolphin performs at SeaWorld San Diego in 2012. Photo: Curimedia/Flickr

On Thursday, a 12-year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin named Dart died at SeaWorld San Antonio after his health had been ailing for over a month. He was the third mammal to die at Seaworld’s Texas location in as many months, his death coming fast on the heels of those of Unna, an orca, and Stella, a beluga whale.

While SeaWorld San Antonio reported that Dart was experiencing “health-related issues,” it failed to specify what those issues were. It did note, however, that one of Dart’s four fellow Pacific white-sided dolphin companions, 37-year-old Betty, is also currently under constant medical supervision for indications of inflammation or infection.

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Dart performs at SeaWorld
Dart, seen here, performing at SeaWorld San Antonio. Photo: Courtesy of SeaWorld
“Like many dolphins, Dart was high-energy, extremely playful, enjoyed participating in shows and interacting with his trainers,” the company said in a press release. “He had been a member of the SeaWorld San Antonio family since his birth at the park in September 2003, and he will be missed by the entire SeaWorld family.

“It has been a difficult time for our San Antonio team, with several other recent deaths. While there are no apparent connections between these deaths, our veterinarians will be conducting a thorough review of all the cases as they work through the post-mortem examination process.”

While the park says there are no connections in the recent spate of deaths, all of the deceased mammals have died at a very early age: Stella, the beluga, was only two when she died, and Unna, the orca, was only 18.

In the wild, female belugas and killer whales can live to be 50. Similarly, Dart’s death at age 12 is extremely early for a Pacific white-sided dolphin, which can reach as old as 46 years in the wild.

Officials with the company said Tuesday that necropsy results are expected in about six to eight weeks on Dart and, at that time, they will be able to determine the cause of his death.

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