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Vancouver Aquarium's beloved dolphin, Spinnaker, dies

Spinnaker, a 16-year-old male dolphin who died March 8, 2012 is seen here flying high above the crowd in Vancouver July 16, 2003.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Spinnaker, the Vancouver Aquarium's male Pacific white-sided dolphin, was found dead this morning.

The marine mammal had been receiving treatment for a prolonged illness. He was thought to be around 25-years-old. Trainers and aquarium staff will be conducting a necropsy Thursday at the province's animal health centre in Abbotsford.

Spinnaker was brought to Vancouver on July 31, 2001. He and the aquarium's two remaining white-sided dolphins, Hanna and Helen, had been found caught up in fishing nets off the coast of Japan in 1991.

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Spinnaker's death follows the passing of Milo the sea otter from lymphoma in January. The 13-year-old grew to be adored worldwide when he was filmed holding paws with his companion at the Vancouver Aquarium, garnering over 17-million views online.

Tiqa, a three-year-old beluga whale, died of heart failure in September, 2011. Nola, a one-year-old beluga calf, died due to a blocked airway in June, 2010.

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