‘Dolphin study still needs years of research’

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

An ongoing Cedar Key dolphin project is revealing a few new discoveries and, as a result, is leading to more questions, according to Stefanie Gazda, a University of Massachusetts doctoral candidate in charge of the study.

Gazda, who has been intermittently studying the unique feeding behavior of the dolphins since 2001, gave an update on the project to about 60 audience members at the Cedar Key Public Library recently.

The area dolphins’ capacity to drive fish in a sort of cooperative hunting expedition is what brought researchers to the area more than a dozen years ago. Cedar Key dolphins have a version of “driving” where a dolphin swims in a circular fashion, causing schools of fish to become airborne and, ultimately, easy pickens’ for other dolphins waiting nearby. Similar behavior has been seen in other areas, Gazda said, but Cedar Key dolphins have a unique brand of the practice.

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