An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin that was attacked by a shark in late February off Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and became stranded as a result of the injuries continues to receive treatment at SeaWorld Orlando.
The 265 lb. sub-adult dolphin was assessed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) who determined that a rescue and rehabilitation attempt was necessary due to the animal’s life-threatening injuries. Members of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team and the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station (based at Marineland) worked alongside to care for the badly injured dolphin. Conservation Field Station veterinarian, Dr. Rose Borkowski conferred with NOAA Fisheries Service about the animal’s condition after the assessment and the decision was made to transport the animal to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation.
At time of the rescue, SeaWorld veterinarian Dr. Lara Croft described the dolphin as being in “critical condition,” based on the “extensiveness of this animal’s shark bite wounds” and how thin she was. The dolphin sustained multiple shark bite wounds to her body and right pectoral flipper.
The dolphin was successfully transported to SeaWorld Orlando’s Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility for further evaluation and rehabilitation. After an initial veterinary exam and treatment, the dolphin was able to swim unsupported at the park’s rescue facility.
Through the course of her treatment, SeaWorld Orlando veterinarians discovered that in addition to shark bite wounds the dolphin was suffering from pneumonia. Over the last month, SeaWorld veterinarians and the Animal Rescue Team have been treating her with antibiotics, dewormers, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and wound care.
This week, veterinarians performed radiographs to confirm if the antibiotics and treatment are clearing up the pneumonia. They will continue to monitor and run additional tests to confirm.
Once her pneumonia clears, the next milestones for her rehabilitation will be for her to continue to gain weight and strength and pass a hearing test. All rescued cetaceans must pass a hearing test administered by NOAA Fisheries to ensure hearing loss was not a factor in their stranding. Hearing loss is detrimental to wild cetaceans as they rely on echolocation to hunt, navigate, and avoid predators.
The SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team and veterinarians will continue to provide 24-hour care and treatment, with the ultimate goal to rehabilitate and return her to the wild.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. In collaboration with NOAA Fisheries and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs authorized to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 31,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than five decades.
Footage of rescued dolphins produced by SeaWorld under the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Response Program.
About Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station
Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station (GA-CFS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Marineland, Fla. GA-CFS is dedicated to research and stranding response of dolphins, small whales, and turtles in northeast Florida and focuses on research and conservation. The team at GA-CFS supports Georgia Aquarium research projects both in the field and on-location and provides unique expertise and experience. GA-CFS exists to increase public awareness and contribute to the scientific study of aquatic life and provides educational outreach to local communities and schools. For more information visit www.georgiaaquarium.org/conserve
About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 31,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.