“This month CMA’s Stranding Team has assisted on a variety of calls. Right at the start of the month, CMA’s Stranding Team participated in a collaborative effort to disentangle a dolphin calf in the Indian River Lagoon system. The calf had been spotted several days earlier with the line and buoy from a crab trap wrapped around its tail, and being followed closely by its mother. CMA joined forces with fellow organizations including Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Hubbs SeaWorld, SeaWorld Orlando, Georgia Aquarium’s Conservation Field Station, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Marine Mammal Conservancy, to help disentangle this dolphin! A fleet of boats set out in the early morning to locate the mother-calf pair. After about five hours of searching their 50 square mile home range, our very own Chuck White spotted the pair! Under the direction of Larry Fulford, the legendary captain of the capture boat, a 400-yard net was thrown out and we went to work! Everyone entered the water to support the net, which encircled the pair. Once both animals were restrained, the line was removed from the calf, and both the mother and calf were released! Hubbs SeaWorld monitored the pair after the intervention to ensure that there were no complications. This dolphin intervention was a success largely due to the dedication and effort put forth from each and every one of the participating facilities. It truly is amazing what teamwork can accomplish! 

The Stranding Team has also been given the opportunity to assist on a variety of sea turtle calls; a total of 5 this month, which were all green sea turtles. Once again, a big thank you to the Sea Turtle Department for allowing us to partake in these calls. 

We rounded up the month by doing some training with the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, the largest nonprofit bird sanctuary in North America. All in all it was a very insightful and interesting day, topped off by capturing, disentangling, and releasing a pelican that had been entangled in fishing gear. 

This month has been very exciting, with many rescue success stories! As always, we would like to extend a huge thank you to our dedicated Stranding Team Members for all of their hard work! We are excited to see what next month has in store!”

 Happy Holidays!

“Albert our juvenile green from ICU (last month’s “Spotlight Turtle”) joined our rehab family on May 18th after being found floating off of Honeymoon Island. Albert was relatively stable when he came to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and began accepting food less than a week after his arrival. After his air evacuation procedure on May 24th, he was able to fully submerge himself and was moved into a larger, deeper pool by the end of June. Albert went through a very successful laser surgery on August 17th, and had all four of his papilloma tumors removed. He had a very quick recovery, and after two months of no regrowth, he was one of two turtles released from Honeymoon Island on October 30th!

Holdup, our yearling Kemp’s Ridley that was caught by a fisherman, arrived on Sunday October 21st. He earned his name because his stranding call came in after 5:00 on a Sunday, and we all agreed he was “holding us up” from heading home! After examining him upon his arrival, he was very lucky that the hook was only stuck in his tongue because it was too large for him to swallow. The hook was carefully removed, and after a quick evaluation by Dr. Walsh on October 22nd, he was cleared for release. “Holdup” was released with Albert from Honeymoon Island on October 30th!”

Last month CMA’s Stranding Team has responded to several stranding calls, including a distressed manatee with extensive boat-related injuries, four Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that had become trapped within a small bay during low tide, and even a few sea turtles! The manatee rescue entailed a collaboration between FWC’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology laboratory and CMA’s Stranding Team. Via our combined efforts, we were able to successfully conduct a boat rescue and transport the manatee, with CMA’s stranding van, to Lowry Park Zoo for rehabilitation. Unfortunately the manatee’s health status did not progress, and therefore he passed away.

As for the trapped dolphins we responded to, fortunately they all swam back out of the bay on the evening high tide, to everyone’s relief! They even made front-page news in a local newspaper! Additionally, CMA’s Stranding Team had the amazing opportunity to assists CMA’s Sea Turtle department by responding to two live Kemp Ridley turtles that had ingested fishing hooks. Fortunately, Dr. Walsh was able to remove the fishing hook and line from one of the animals and the other animal also had the hook successfully removed upon arrival at the aquarium.

We also have named our stranding boat (drum roll please….) “Tail Force One!” Thank you to all of the Stranding Team Members for all the great names that were submitted!

We have also been continuing with our workshop series, the latest being Marine Mammal Rehabilitation! All agreed it was an interesting and insightful workshop that evoked much discussion. Attendees even got to take part in an exciting activity, carrying out morphometrics on Winter and Hope. Thanks to all of our trainers for their help with this workshop!

As always, we would like to extend a huge thank you to our dedicated and passionate Stranding Team Members for all of their hard work! We are excited to see what next month has in store!

The CMA Stranding Team has been extremely active this past month!

The CMA Stranding Team Workshop Series has been going great! This month we offered two separate workshops, including “Equipment and Sanitation” and “Marine Mammal Biology and Identification”. During the “Equipment and Sanitation” workshop, volunteers had the opportunity to learn all about stranding equipment and most importantly, how to properly sanitize EVERYTHING after a stranding event. This is one of the most important parts of responding to a stranding, because we want to ensure that no zoonotic diseases are transmitted to our beloved, resident dolphins. After the workshop, volunteers put their new skills to the test by sanitizing our stranding van and boat. The “Marine Mammal Biology and Identification” workshop was all about teaching our members the biology of cetaceans and how to identify the 28 species of dolphins and whales that could potentially strand in South Florida! We had a large turnout for this workshop, and members had the extra special opportunity to experience the anatomy of a dolphin firsthand, via a hands-on activity with our dolphins Nicholas and Hope. A huge thanks to trainers John and Talia for making this happen for our spectacular volunteers! 

Our Stranding Team has also been assisting Dr. Ann Weaver with her research on wild dolphins! Specifically, Dr. Weaver studies involves photo identification of the wild bottlenose dolphins that live near Johns Pass. She has been studying these animals since 2003 and has identified 291 individuals by their unique dorsal fins! The CMA Stranding Team has been able to contribute to Dr. Weaver’s research, by providing her with all the dorsal fin photos of bottlenose dolphin strandings that we have responded to. Although we had only a handful of pictures to give to her, to our surprise we found that many of the photo’s matched her animals! Therefore, Dr. Weaver now is able to “connect the dots” of what happened to the animals and also learn more about that individual (e.g. how old it is by a tooth sample). The Stranding Team will definitely continue to aid Dr. Weaver in her future research! 

Thanks to our amazing Stranding Team volunteers for all of their hard work, dedication, and positive attitude! We truly cannot do our mission without you! Looking forward to what next month has in store.