Sunday, 7 September 2014

Requiem for a Shark Dog

A year ago this fall, Palmyra Atoll lost its most famous and beloved resident—a shark-chasing dog named Dadu.

By Grady Timmons

When The Nature Conservancy bought Palmyra from the Fullard-Leo family in the spring of 2000, one of the conditions of the sale was that the existing pets—three dogs and two cats—be allowed to live out their lives on the atoll. 

Two of the dogs died within a few years, but the other lived to be at least 15. His name was Dadu, and when he was laid to rest a year ago this fall the atoll lost its most famous resident. 

“Dadu was Palmyra’s shark-chasing dog,” says Conservancy marine scientist Kydd Pollock. “He wasn’t scared of anything.”

Beloved by staff and celebrated by visiting researchers, Dadu was the subject of blogs and YouTube videos and at one point had his own Facebook page. At the south-eastern end of the atoll there is even a small islet that now bears his name. 

Dadu was a mongrel, a poi dog. He had a coarse, light brown coat and big black protruding ears. His many shark encounters had left scars on the side of his belly, and a chunk of his left ear was missing—the result of being picked on by the other dogs when he was young. 

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