A young female bottlenose dolphin that stranded Tuesday morning (12-16-08) on Siesta Key Public Beach at access No. 8 has been brought to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Dolphin and Whale Hospital for treatment.
The dolphin is a 3½-year-old female known to scientists with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, the world’s longest-running study of a dolphin population and a collaboration between Mote and the Chicago Zoological Society. The dolphin was identified by the unique nicks on her dorsal fin as the first calf born to another dolphin known to the program, a 13-year-old referred to as “F127.” The young dolphin, named “Ginger,” separated from her mother last spring before the birth of a new sibling in June, and has been on her own since. Ginger’s 49-year-old grandmother, a long-term resident of Sarasota Bay, has been studied by the program since August 1975.
Ginger is just over 7 feet long and weighs 271 pounds. Her weight is within the range, but on the low side of what we would expect for a female of her size and age at this time of year. The dolphin has been swimming on her own since 12:25 p.m. today.
It is unknown at this time why the animal stranded on the beach. Blood and other samples will be taken to help veterinarians try to determine why the animal stranded as well as the proper course of treatment. Her hearing will be tested by scientists from the University of South Florida soon.
“One of our program’s main objectives is to understand the factors that affect the survival of the members of the resident Sarasota Bay dolphin community,” said Dr. Randall Wells, manager of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. “We hope the tests Mote’s hospital is doing will help shed light on why this dolphin ended up on the beach and help us return her quickly to the wild. Once she is released, we will plan to monitor her re-acclimation closely.”
When covering this story, please help us remind readers and viewers what they should do if they see a stranded marine animal on the beach and how they can help animals in rehabilitation at Mote:
IF YOU ENCOUNTER A STRANDED MARINE MAMMAL:
• Do not push the animal back into the water, they have stranded for a reason and pushing them back into the water is both illegal (under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act) and will prevent the animal from receiving proper care.
• In Sarasota or Manatee County, call Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program at 941-988-0212. The program responds to both live and dead strandings of marine mammals and sea turtles. In other locations in Florida, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC.
• Protect the animal from direct sun and keep skin protected with wet towels, making sure to keep the area around the blowhole clear of water, sand or debris.
• Keep pets away and avoid excessive noise or handling.
• To avoid injury to yourself, stay clear of the mouth and tail and observe the animal from a safe distance until the appropriate experts arrive. Even though the animal is probably sick, remember they are wild animals and very strong.
Help Animals in Rehabilitation
A portion of the operations of Mote’s Dolphin and Whale Hospital are funded through NOAA Fisheries Service’s Prescott Grant Program. The hospital also relies on the generosity of individuals to support its efforts. To help support rehabilitation efforts, please call 941-388-4441, ext. 309, or visit www.mote.org.
ABOUT MOTE MARINE LABORATORY
Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit marine research organization. It is dedicated to advancing the science of the sea through the study of marine and estuarine ecosystems, through the public Mote Aquarium and through an education division that provides unique programs for all ages.