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CNN Today

Meeting the Neighbors: Italian Marine Biologist Introduces Santa Monica to Bay Dolphins

Aired February 23, 2000 - 1:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Forty-five million people visit the beaches of Santa Monica Bay every year.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And many of those visitors may not know dolphins also share those waters.

Here's CNN's Siobhan Darrow

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIOBHAN DARROW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Italian Marine biologist Maddalena Bearzi noticed dolphins in Santa Monica Bay a few years ago, she was surprised to find nobody could tell her anything about them. In fact, few Angelinos seemed to even know they're here.

MADDALENA BEARZI, MARINE BIOLOGIST: I thought it was really weird in a city like L.A. nobody never really started a long-term study in this bay. People don't even know they can see dolphins from shore.

DARROW: So Bearzi decided to study the mammals and started the Los Angeles Dolphin Project. She, along with her husband and volunteer graduate students, go out at least once a week and track Los Angeles' resident dolphins.

ANDREA BACHMAN, RESEARCHER: They'll turn their heads and they're looking right at you, and so there's something that feels really -- like I feel like they're kind of studying us, too.

BEARZI: If you can get the calf with the mother.

DARROW: They've taken more than 15,000 photos of the dolphins, observing how they spend their days.

BEARZI: I think they have a really great life, actually. They travel, they socialize they feed, they rest.

DARROW: Bearzi has been surprised by just how social the dolphins are, often seeing them hanging out with other sea mammals.

As coastal creatures, the dolphins feel the impact of man, making them a barometer of sorts for the health of the bay. The project hopes to educate the public about threats to the animals by taking school children out for a first-hand look at the dolphins.

EHSAAN MESGHALI, STUDENT: It's important to know how we could help the environment in the Santa Monica Bay and how we influence it, especially all the animals in there.

DARROW: Introducing the next generation to their marine neighbors could be the key to the dolphins' survival.

Siobhan Darrow, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: Now that's a good job.

ALLEN: Absolutely.

WATERS: A fun job.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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