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2 aquarium dolphins found, 6 still missing after Katrina

Shannon Huyser, left, Jeff Foster and Marci Romagnoli recover two injured dolphins near Gulfport, Miss., Thursday. The animals were washed out of an aquarium tank during the hurricane.
Shannon Huyser, left, Jeff Foster and Marci Romagnoli recover two injured dolphins near Gulfport, Miss., Thursday. The animals were washed out of an aquarium tank during the hurricane.
Steve Helber, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — Two dolphins that were swept from their aquarium tanks into the Gulf of Mexico by Hurricane Katrina were rescued Thursday, but six others remained at sea.

The two rescued dolphins were captured after scientists in a boat coaxed the trained animals into sliding onto mats.

The dolphins had cuts and appeared to be the worst injured of the eight, Jeff Foster, a marine specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. They were being moved to a hotel swimming pool.

Trainers and scientists hope to catch more of the dolphins on Saturday, but said that may be tougher because the dolphins "get pretty wise to our tricks," Foster said. Nets are also an option, a NOAA spokeswoman said.

The marine mammals had spent much of their lives in captivity at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport. After Katrina's storm surge washed them away, they were spotted Saturday swimming off Gulfport by NOAA scientists conducting an aerial damage survey.

Scientists worried that the dolphins might not have the instincts to avoid predators and boat traffic.

The dolphins' home had been a 30-foot-high tank. The Marine Life Oceanarium was destroyed by Katrina.

Moby Solangi, the aquarium's owner, said the staff had been worried that the dolphins had died. "We are just thrilled that they have stayed together during the past couple of weeks," Solangi said.