Okay, actually a marine mammal rehabilitation facility near Key Largo opened a dolphin "chat line" of sorts on Saturday, April 7th, hoping to teach a deaf dolphin’s unborn calf to communicate.
A twice-stranded pregnant Atlantic bottlenose dolphin named Castaway has been recovering at the Marine Mammal Conservancy since Jan. 30th. Not long after she was nursed back to health, marine biologists began to suspect that Castaway was deaf. Testing performed in February by the National Marine Fisheries Service confirmed that Castaway doesn’t respond to auditory stimuli and is considered to be essentially deaf. Dolphins rely upon their sense of hearing for echolocation — the means by which they hunt, socialize, navigate, and defend themselves against predators. MMC specialists doubt that Castaway could’ve continued to survive in the wild without this most elemental skill.
So the attention now turns to Castaway’s unborn calf who, given it’s response to ultrasound testing, is believed to have normal hearing abilities. So the conservancy’s staff decided to electronically connect Castaway’s habitat to that of a lagoon at Dolphins Plus, a marine research & educational facility a few miles down the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Underwater speakers & microphones were installed at both locations and connected via phone lines.
MMC’s president Robert Lingenfelser hopes that this will give Castaway’s calf, due in early May, an opportunity to get acclimated to normal dolphin vocalization sounds and learn how to communicate. You can visit the Marine Mammal Conservancy’s Castaway page to follow the story as it unfolds.
You’ve just gotta love Vann Hall’s tagline on this phone chat newsbit:
"We’re wet, naked, and waiting for your call!"