On a sunny day in Key Largo, our primary responders received a report of four "baby" dolphins being stranded in the Everglades National Park. Our team of responders jumped into action, launching an operation to recover and evaluate the health of these stranded animals. On site, the animals were stabilized and transported back to Key Largo for further evaluation. All four animals were in need of rehabilitative care and unfortunately, no other facility had the space or resources to take on their rehabilitation at that time.
Without a place for the animals to go, the National Marine Fisheries Service (the government agency regulating our involvement with strandings) instructed our team to humanely euthanize all four animals. This profound moment sparked a fire within our founders. As the dolphins took their final breaths in the arms of our responders, we made a commitment to develop the facilities so desperately needed to facilitate whale & dolphin rehabilitation - and we haven't stopped chasing this goal since.
Now, we are working daily to develop "The Protect Center." The Protect Center will first and foremost be a hospital for sick and injured whales and dolphins, offering lifesaving care to animals that need short and long term rehabilitation prior to being released. The hospital will be equipped with both intensive care pools and habitats for longer term supportive care, offering plenty of space for animals when they need us most.
Beyond being an active rehabilitation hospital, The Protect Center will also provide the resources necessary to support our Photo Identification research projects, stranding investigations program, and additional outreach efforts.
We're excited about our future, because our future means a brighter future for whales & dolphins in the wild.
On April 18, 2019, one of DPMMR's staff veterinarians responded to a stranded Rough-toothed Dolphin Calf in Fort Meyers, Florida.
Apart from being slightly dehydrated, the calf seemed otherwise healthy and would have likely made a full recovery at a certified rehabilitation facility. Unfortunately, the responding veterinarians had no choice but to humanely euthanize the animal as there was not a facility that could provide the rehabilitation needed. Upon examination, it was discovered that this animal had ingested two plastic bags and a balloon, the likely cause of the stranding.
This story is all too common in the marine mammal world - with countless whales and dolphins facing the same fate.
Our goal is to create an ocean free from human threats, thereby decreasing the number of dolphins who strand each year. Until then, we hope to build a South Florida refuge for animals that do fall victim to these threats and need a saving grace.