You could say saving whales & dolphins is in our DNA...
Although our organization was founded in 2018, our team has been rescuing whales & dolphins in the Florida Keys since the 1980's. We may have evolved over the years, but our dedication to helping marine mammals in need has never wavered. Here's how we got to where we are now:
- 1980 - Dolphins Plus opens and pioneers the first swim-with-dolphin programs in the world.
- 1987 - Rick Borguss, one of the founders of Dolphins Plus, responds to 4 stranded rough-toothed dolphins. Using his experience from caring for permanent resident dolphins, Rick successfully rehabilitates and releases all four dolphins - marking one of the first successful releases of stranded dolphins in history. After this experience, Rick forms the "Pod Squad," the first team in the Florida Keys dedicated to marine mammal rescue and funded by proceeds of Dolphins Plus.
- 1991 - The unofficial "Pod Squad" reorganizes formally into the "Marine Mammal Rescue Foundation of the Upper Keys" (MMRF).
- 1992 - The MMRF is granted a Letter of Agreement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and is officially recognized by the government as the primary responders for whales & dolphins in the Florida Keys. Equipped with their official authorization, the MMRF continues to respond to stranded animals throughout South Florida.
- 1995 - The Marine Mammal Conservancy (MMC) Is formed as a non-profit, 501c3 organization with a mission to operate the Florida Keys Stranding Network.
- 2005 - The Marine Mammal Rescue Foundation of the Upper Keys merges with the Marine Mammal Conservancy to better serve marine mammal rescue. Still funded largely by Dolphins Plus - the Marine Mammal Conservancy responds to hundreds of whales & dolphins.
- 2015 - Facing financial hardship after a costly rehabilitation, the Marine Mammal Conservancy disbands and members of the MMC Board of Directors re-organize and form a new 501c3 called "Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder." The new 501c3 will act as the non-profit arm of Dolphins Plus, Inc and holds the Letter of Agreement from federal authorities keeping the stranding network alive in the Florida Keys.
- 2018 - DPMMR separates completely from Dolphins Plus, INC, adopting the care of eight resident animals and operating independent of financial support from Dolphins Plus. With a new organizational model, DPMMR begins expanding their mission from just marine mammal rescue to include animal welfare, research, and education efforts.