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Dolphin in SW Japan aquarium breaks domestic record for longest time in captivity

Long-beaked common dolphin Haruka, which broke the Japanese record for the longest time in captivity for one of her species, is seen at Oita Marine Palace Aquarium "Umitamago" in the city of Oita, on Sept. 29, 2020. (Mainichi/Tomohiro Tsujimoto)

OITA -- Haruka, a long-beaked common dolphin at Oita Marine Palace Aquarium "Umitamago" in this southwestern Japan city, on Sept. 5 broke the Japanese record for the longest time in captivity for a member of her species.

    Haruka, thought to be 12 years old, broke the previous record of 12 years, 6 months and 18 days held by an animal at Kamogawa Sea World in the Chiba Prefecture city of Kamogawa, southeast of Tokyo.

    According to Oita Marine Palace, Haruka was taken into care after being caught in a net off the coast of Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture, south of Oita Prefecture, in February 2008. After her rescue, she could not swim well due to her injuries, but recovered steadily. Haruka is now 2.2 meters long and weighs 110 kilograms. She is curious and loves getting into mischief, such as pestering other types of dolphins in the same pool.

    The long-beaked dolphin is about 1 meter shorter than the bottlenose dolphins generally bred in aquariums in Japan, and is characterized by a yellowish pattern on the side of the body. A pod of about 100 long-beaked dolphins inhabit the sea off Oita Prefecture, but few have been in captivity as they are not the target of dolphin catches. Haruka is currently the only one of her kind on display in Japan.

    Hitoshi Juman, a sub-leader in charge of caring for the animals at the aquarium, said, "I didn't think Haruka could live this long when she came to the aquarium. We want to keep her for a long time and better understand her behavior."

    (Japanese original by Tomohiro Tsujimoto, Oita Bureau)

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