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4 dolphins moved from Arizona facility to Caribbean park

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Jennifer Kay, The Associated Press


Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 12:39PM EST

MIAMI — Four remaining dolphins at an Arizona facility where four other dolphins have died have moved into a new home in the Caribbean.

Coral World Ocean Park in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, announced the arrival of the four Atlantic bottlenose dolphins late Wednesday.

In a statement , the park said the dolphins are being cared for in a 69,000-square-foot (6,410-square-meter) ocean habitat enclosed by a mesh barrier that extends over 20 feet (6 metres) down to the ocean floor.

The animals are healthy and exploring their new environment, Lee Kellar, Coral World’s general curator, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

All four dolphins were born in captivity, so this is their first exposure to natural sea water, waves, currents and squids and fish swimming with them.

They had been living at Dolphinaris Arizona. Four dolphins have died at the Scottsdale, Arizona, facility since it opened in 2016. It closed temporarily this month as experts investigate what caused the marine mammals’ deaths.

The relocation was a joint decision with Dolphin Quest, which owns two of the dolphins, so the animals could maintain the bond they developed over the last two years, Dolphinaris Arizona spokeswoman Jen Smith said in an emailed statement.

Animal rights advocates have criticized the Arizona facility, saying that putting dolphins in pools in the desert was tantamount to animal cruelty.

“It was imperative for these dolphins to get out of that situation because something wasn’t right,” Kellar said.

“The folks who have been caring for these animals were doing everything right. Their track record with other dolphins in other facilities is stellar. It’s just that that particular place is not good for dolphins,” he said.

The dolphins are the first at the St. Thomas park. Kellar said the “sea sanctuary” has been in the works with private funding for seven years and meets federal requirements under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act.

Coral World trainers will spend the next several months getting the animals used to their new home before introducing them to the public. How close park visitors will get to the dolphins will depend on how the animals adapt, Kellar said.

“We’re excited we can provide them a home, but also start looking at what it takes for dolphins to go from the pool environment to adapting to a sea sanctuary,” Kellar said.

Animal rights advocates have called for all marine mammals in captivity to be moved to seaside sanctuaries. SeaWorld and other institutions keeping marine mammals have rejected that idea, saying the animals are safest in their current displays, where they help educate the public about marine life in the wild.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore swam against the industry current, however, and announced plans in 2016 to move its pod of dolphins into an ocean enclosure by the end of 2020.

Smith said the Scottsdale facility plans to reopen without dolphins but still focused on ocean conservation and education.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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