– Where’s Rodeo?

Forget Waldo – where’s Rodeo? We responded to Rodeo when he stranded in June 2013 – he received expert care at SeaWorld Orlando’s rehabilitation center. In November 2013, Rodeo was released back into the Indian River Lagoon and we monitored his movements and health with a radio-transmitter. We saw him recently during a survey more than 50 miles north of where he was released, nearly four years after we last saw him. We’re so excited that he’s thriving – stay tuned for where Rodeo turns up next!

– April Fools!

Happy #AprilFoolsDay! One of the ocean pranksters we work with are Kogia whales – they’re the most common stranded live whale our Florida team helps. Kogia whales store ink in their large intestines and shoot it at predators, mainly sharks, to confuse them and make their escape. They are amazing creatures and most of what we know about them comes from stranded animal work

– Dolphins and Pelicans Hang Out

Our lab in Melbourne Beach has been a popular spot with dolphins and pelicans this week. This was taken Tuesday when a large group of pelicans and a pod of about 30 dolphins came by to fish and hang out on our dock.

The dock was heavily damaged last October by a hurricane but that hasn’t discouraged our local wildlife from stopping by to visit. The science lab repairs were started this week but nearly $200,000 in community support is still needed for completion of all repairs. As repairs to our lab continue, these critters remind us of why we love what we do.

– Spring 2017 Newsletter

The spring issue of Fins & Flukes is here! Read about our Marine Mammal Stranding Team’s work last year and our plans for the future. As of today we’ve already responded to six dolphins and whales in 2017.

Fins and Flukes – Spring 2017

– Semi-Annual Stranding Update

HSWRI Marine Stranding Team statistics for the six months ending January 2017

Patrick Air Force Base and Sea World personnel team up to help a sick whale Sept. 7, which led Air Force Reservist Tech. Sgt. Bridget Gayden, 920th Rescue Wing Security Forces Airman, to become a Sea World volunteer to help sick animals.(U.S. Air Force photo Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

– Aerial Survey Update

Our Research Scientist Wendy Noke Durden recently published abundance estimates and trends from nearly a decade of aerial surveys of Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphins. The information we gather monitors the effects of ecological disturbances, unusual mortality events, and human impacts on this key species. We found that abundance estimates increased during extremely cold winter events and that the average abundance was 1,000 Indian River Lagoon dolphins. As always, further investigation is needed to conserve this important dolphin population.

– Run the Tide Beach 5K on July 15, 2017

Announcing the Run the Tide 5k 2017. Come out and enjoy a beautiful sunrise run/walk and support Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. This is a fun event with a party afterwards at Long Doggers. And this year….the inflatable dolphins are back

– Entangled dolphin calf rescued

Yesterday we helped lead a multi-agency rescue of an entangled bottlenose dolphin calf in the Indian River Lagoon. The calf was badly entangled with fishing line embedded in her tail – we’d been following the calf and planning a rescue since she was first seen earlier this month. We’ll monitor the calf and her mother over the next few weeks to make sure they continue to do well. We encourage everyone to help clean up waters ways by recycling fishing line and reporting injured animals to the proper agency.

– Funds needed to repair Hurricane Matthew damage

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Indian River Lagoon water surge from Hurricane Matthew at HSWRI lab, Melbourne Beach

It’s taken some time for our team to assess the extent of the damage done by #HurricaneMatthew to our Florida headquarters. The buildings  were battered by 105 mph winds and the storm surge from the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) caused further damage, including nearly a foot of standing water, mud, and debris in the building during the weekend after the hurricane.

Despite the destruction, our staff’s resolve to respond to dolphins and whales in distress never wavered. While assisting 24/7 at the site with assessment and clean-up, they’ve also responded to 10 strandings in the past three weeks – one of which occurred only two days after the hurricane.

Restoration work has begun, but our out-of-pocket costs will exceed $200,000: $85,000 is needed for immediate repairs. We need your help! Please consider a generous gift to help our marine mammal stranding team and faithful volunteers restore their lab on the IRL!

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The water in the lab after the hurricane; drywall will have to be replaced in the entire first floor.

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Portions of the roof were decimated by the hurricane’s winds and will have to be replaced.

 

-Air Force Reserve Command: Beached whale encounter leads Airman to SeaWorld volunteerism

By Maj. Cathleen Snow, 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs / Published October 18, 2016

Patrick Air Force Base and Sea World personnel team up to help a sick whale Sept. 7, which led Air Force Reservist Tech. Sgt. Bridget Gayden, 920th Rescue Wing Security Forces Airman, to become a Sea World volunteer to help sick animals.(U.S. Air Force photo Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

Patrick Air Force Base and Sea World personnel team up to help a sick whale Sept. 7, which led Air Force Reservist Tech. Sgt. Bridget Gayden, 920th Rescue Wing Security Forces Airman, to become a Sea World volunteer to help sick animals.(U.S. Air Force photo Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. —

As an Air Force Reserve security forces Airman, Tech. Sgt. Bridget Gayden never imagined she’d be responding to help a sick mammal, however on Sept. 7, Gayden and fellow 920th Rescue Wing SF Airmen were called to help a 10-foot whale stranded on Patrick Air Force Base’s beach.

“It was an unforgettable experience,” said Gayden which led her to volunteering with the marine organization her team assisted.

At approximately 7:15 a.m., Gina Monteith, wife of Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander, found and reported a beached whale along the Patrick Air Force Base shoreline. The 45th SW Environmental Conservation personnel reported the incident to Sea World Orlando, whom they later met on scene.

In the meantime, 920th RQW Reserve Airmen teamed up with local volunteers from a local office of the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute.

Volunteer Kasey Farrell said the whale was a species of Cogia, either a dwarf or pygmy. She explained, “When an animal like this that belongs in the deep water beaches itself, it’s already sick. Putting it back in the water will make it strand again and just prolong its suffering.”

The goal of this military-marine life team of helpers, was comfort. “Keepin it in the shade because they can get sunburnt; keeping the skin moist; keeping it comfortable,” until a Sea World research scientist arrived, said Farrell.

Despite wearing mid-calf combat boots and camouflage battle dress, Gayden waded back and forth into the surf filling a plastic container full of sea water to pour onto the animal’s skin – keeping it cool from the searing 80-degree heat.

Although the outcome today would not be what everyone on scene had hoped for, there were benefits.

Because these whales have never been successfully rehabilitated in captivity in the history of the ‘stranding program’, Wendy Noke-Gurgen, HSWRI Scientist, said the whale would be euthanized and taken back to Sea World for clinical research.

While the act of comforting a whale fell out of an SF Airman’s normal range of military duties, Gayden also didn’t expect to bond with the animal and her encounter has led to her current role as an HSWRI volunteer. She said it is her hope to help more sick animals like the whale.

“What we know about these animals, almost all of it comes from stranded ones. Rarely seen, they come from deep water. They are deep divers. We are hopeful we can find out why this animal stranded and the biology of the species and maybe learn something to help them down the road,” said Noke-Gurgen….

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