MARINELAND, FLA. (Sept. 15, 2016) – A bottlenose dolphin calf was spotted earlier this week struggling to swim alongside its mother near Daytona Beach with an all too common problem– entanglement in marine debris. Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station (GACFS) in Marineland, Fla. alongside partnering institutions were able to respond to the call and assist with assessing and freeing the calf.

After meeting with partners from SeaWorld, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, and Volusia County Environmental Management officials, a plan was devised and the animals were spotted Wednesday morning in Mosquito Lagoon, Fla. Authorized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NOAA Fisheries) Southeast Regional Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program, the teams were able to safely approach the animals, handle them, and allowed veterinarians to evaluate the condition of the calf which appeared healthier than anticipated.  Specialists removed fishing line from that dolphins tail flukes and dorsal fin, cleaned the wounds, and administered antibiotics.  After the 13-month-old calf was released back to the Indian River Lagoon waters a fishing rod and reel that measured eight feet was found where the calf was handled.  Although not certain at this time it is possible that the young dolphin had been dragging the rod and reel with the addition of marine growth (algae and barnacles) that had built up on the entangled fishing line.

Dolphins and other marine life all face many challenges in the wild including an increase exposure to discarded trash and fishing gear.

GACFS is dedicated to the rescue and research efforts of marine life in north Florida and is a member of the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which allows GACFS to work with a variety of government agencies and non-profit institutions in response to dolphin and small whale strandings or distress calls.

Notice: Response conducted under MMPA/ESA Permit No. 18786