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Advocates decry missing mammal data

San Diego-- The U.S. government's Marine Mammal Inventory Report is missing data and lacks appropriate analysis, animal advocates said.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Saturday its review of the document found the well-publicized 1989 death of Kandu the orca was missing and that no statistical analysis has been performed to learn lessons from the data.

National Marine Fisheries Service spokeswoman Connie Barclay could not account for the missing information, telling the newspaper Friday, "If we get the information, we add it to our list."

The Tribune said federal regulators don't follow up with data analysis, meaning that evaluating the performance of the nation's 30 facilities that hold captive dolphins and whales is an impossible task.

Four orcas, the black-and-white killer whales that weigh several tons and are members of the dolphin family, have died at SeaWorld San Diego since 1985, along with 42 non-orca dolphins in the same time period.

"Arguably, one of the reasons for maintaining a public marine mammal inventory is so that the government can keep an eye on trends, lax facilities and the animals themselves," Naomi Rose, a senior scientist at the Humane Society in Maryland, told the Union-Tribune. "But if a facility is doing poorly, regulators don't know because they are not doing any analysis. The database becomes an enormous waste."

"There is nothing preventing anyone from conducting their own analysis on the data," Barclay said.

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