Mote Marine Laboratory marine veterinarians are treating a critically injured dolphin found stranded in Tampa Bay.
Fishermen first spotted the dolphin on laying on its side during low tide around 10:00 a.m. on September 17. They immediately called the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline.
“The fishermen did the right thing by calling," said Anna Panike, Biological Scientist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "We asked them to move the dolphin into an upright position and keep it wet until we could arrive at the scene."
FWC staff and a volunteer veterinarian from Clearwater Marine Aquarium transported the dolphin to a nearby boat ramp to assess the dolphin's condition. They reported the dolphin attempted to swim, but was still lethargic.
"Usually when a dolphin is stranded, it is stranded for a reason," said Andy Garrett, Research Administrator for FWC. "We didn’t feel it was in the best interest for the animal to release it immediately.”
A decision was made to take the dolphin to a rehabilitation facility. They chose Mote Marine Laboratory, a non-profit marine science institution located in Sarasota. The dolphin arrived at Mote about five hours after the FWC received the call from the fishermen.
The dolphin was nicknamed "Feeny" after Mr. Feeny, a character from the 1990s ABC-TV sitcom “Boy Meets World.”
Veterinarians say Feeny arrived at Mote in very critical condition suffering from anemia, dehydration, pneumonia and an infection. Caregivers were initially forced to support the dolphin for periods of time.
Feeny is showing signs of improving. He has been swimming without assistance for more than 24 hours. He is also eating all the fish caregivers are offering him.
Vets are treating Feeny with fluids and antibiotics. Mote says the dolphin will require more care and mentioning. However, the final outcome is still uncertain.
“We wish the best for him, but with animals, we know things can change at any time," said Gretchen Lovewell, manager of Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program. "So we are watching him closely and providing constant care."
It costs Mote between $600 and $1,000 a day to care for an ill dolphin. Because the marine institution is non-profit, it is only through donations Mote is able to provide the services it does. If you would like to help, you can make a donation online at www.mote.org/donate. Click "Donations and select "Mote’s animal hospitals" under "Designation."
If you see a stranded, entangled, injured or dead marine animal anywhere in Florida you are asked to immediately call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at (888) 404-3922.