Thursday, 26 January 2012

Dolphin stranded at park, taken to Orlando for rehab

PANAMA CITY BEACH — A dolphin stranded at St. Andrews State Park that was rescued by Gulf World Marine Park employees was on her way to the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in Orlando on Wednesday for long-term rehabilitation.

Gulf World’s veterinarian Lydia Staggs found inflammation in the abdomen of the adult female Atlantic spotted dolphin. She said she was unsure what the cause was, but further testing would be done once the dolphin arrived in Orlando. She said the inflammation was not due to a live fetus.

“We say it’s a guarded prognosis because we haven’t diagnosed what is wrong with her,” Staggs said. “When they get down there, they’ll probably do another ultrasound and radiographs, which are X-rays.”

Though Gulf World has X-ray capabilities, they were unable to perform any because the dolphin was not stable and calm enough.

Staggs said an “unusual mortality event” has been declared in this area because there are a higher number of dolphins stranded than usual in the last few years. The declaration, issued in 2010, covers Franklin County to Louisiana, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. Staggs said the declaration means even if an animal is found dead, they still have to collect samples to determine cause.

Click for more information on the "unusual mortality event."

Christopher Dold, vice president of veterinarian services for SeaWorld, said the most important part of this entire process from rescue through rehabilitation is vigilant monitoring and stabilization.

“The next steps are really a continuation of the first steps; monitor her closely for any signs of disease, try to diagnose the initial problem that caused her to strand and then move forward … hopefully resulting in as quick a recovery as possible and ultimately attempt a release if possible,” Dold said.

He said the testing will take time because they don’t want to stress the dolphin too much at once.

Staggs said if people find a dolphin stranded, they should never try to get it back out into the ocean.

“Don’t release them; call us. … Do not push them back out in the water. We would appreciate that,” Staggs said.

An earlier version of this story appears below:

Gulf World Marine Park employees responded to a call about a stranded dolphin at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, officials wrote in a news release.

The team found the six-foot adult female Atlantic Spotted dolphin at St. Andrews State Park removed it from the area and brought it to Gulf World’s Stranding Facility where Dr. Lydia Staggs collected samples to send to the lab for further analysis, the news release stated.

Staggs also conducted an ultrasound on the dolphin and discovered internal inflammation in the abdomen. A research institute in Orlando, which is one of our standing network partners, has agreed to drive to Panama City Beach to transport the dolphin to Orlando for further rehabilitation, officials wrote.

Gulf World does not currently have space available to continue the long term rehabilitation of the dolphin. Staggs added that the dolphin is being monitored overnight and is in guarded condition.


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