The Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network (ALMMSN), based out of Dauphin Island Sea Lab, responded to a call from local fisherman reporting a small dolphin in distress near C & S Bait and Tackle on Deer River in Theodore, Alabama on October 16, 2018.  The distressed animal was a young pantropical spotted dolphin, which is uncommon in local inshore waters.  

“Pantropical spotted dolphins normally inhabit deep oceanic waters well past the continental shelf, so, this dolphin was clearly out of habitat and separated from its pod,” said ALMMSN Stranding Coordinator, Mackenzie Russell.

Although young, the female pantropical spotted dolphin was nearly six feet long and weighed more than 100 pounds. The need for immediate intervention and rescue was determined following a health assessment by ALMMSN Veterinarian, Dr. Alissa Deming, in coordination with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.  

“The dolphin was in critical condition when we arrived on scene and she was in urgent need of medical care. Transporting any wild dolphin, particularly an offshore species that is notoriously challenging to rescue and rehabilitate, can be extremely stressful for the animal. She was unstable throughout the transport and required several doses of emergency medications during the ride.” said Dr. Deming.  

ALMMSN staff and volunteers were able to safely rescue the dolphin and successfully transport the animal to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS), in Gulfport, Mississippi where she is receiving round-the-clock care. 

“Supportive care and health testing will be performed at IMMS to determined what caused her to strand, but she is still in pretty rough shape,” said Deming.  “We are very thankful to the local fishermen and owners at C & S Bait and Tackle who immediately reported the distressed dolphin, as well as our ALMMSN volunteers and the IMMS staff who made this rescue possible. It remains unclear why this young pantropical spotted dolphin was alone and far removed from its normal habitat, but we are giving her the best chance possible and hope for a good outcome.”

At last check, the dolphin was in critical condition at IMMS.

Rapid reporting increases the chances of survival for stranded marine mammals. If you see a sick, injured or dead marine mammal in Alabama waters, DO NOT PUSH IT BACK into the water, please immediately call ALMMSN at 1-877-WHALE-HELP.