Orphaned dolphin finds a new temporary pod at IMMS

An orphaned dolphin discovered in Gulfport has found a new pod, at least a temporary one.

Researchers at IMMS give us an update on how they and veterinarians are nursing the juvenile dolphin back to good health.

What a difference a week and a half makes. This juvenile male dolphin couldn’t even swim on his own when he was rescued and first arrived at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.

Now this orphaned dolphin frolics, flips, and even flirts with his caretakers here at his temporary home as he is rehabbed.  MSU College of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Instructor Dr. Christa Barrett said, “That’s what he’s been doing with us, using us as a scratching post, if you will. He likes to rub on us and interact on us, which is good to see because he’s a young animal, he does need that interaction. Because he’s not with his pod, we do need to step in and provide that interaction for him. He’s definitely been doing some cartwheels underneath the water and doing the cute things that make us all just love these animals.”

But it’s not all play. There’s work to be done, plenty of it, especially when it comes to feeding time and these researchers and veterinarians literally nurse him back to good health. MSU College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Debra Moore said, “He will gradually be shifting off milk on to fish. So, we’re at that process where he’s going to be weaning on to fishing. It’s so important for him to get the milk because he needs it nutritionally.”

Besides nursing, feeding, and a good diet, water samples must be taken on the hour, every hour. IMMS Stranding Coordinator Theresa Madrigal said, “The water quality is very important for this animal both internally and externally. Every hour we do have somebody running tests on the water to make sure we have the correct temperature, and that we have the correct salinity, the correct PH and other kind of chemical parameters as well.”

It’s a 24/7, round-the-clock job for these surrogate parents, but one that apparently comes naturally to them as they nurse this young guy back to good health with the aim of releasing him back into his natural habitat in the Gulf of Mexico.

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