Friday, January 29, 2010

New Family Member Arrives!

The Dolphin Research Center Family is thrilled to announce the arrival of Pandora and A.J.'s calf!

The little sprite arrived early on this morning (Jan. 29, 2010) just before 1 a.m. Both mother and baby are doing great. Pandora is demonstrating calm, confident behavior. We've observed the baby nursing and strongly swimming. Even though this is her first calf, Pandora has had lots of babysitting experience and helped raise her younger sisters Calusa and Cayo. It sure looks like she's following in her mother Merina's flukeprints and will be a terrific mom.

Yesterday afternoon, Pandora began showing signs of labor with hunching and arching. We had observers at her lagoon from that point on to monitor her progress and they quickly put out the call when the baby arrived. As staff arrived to work this morning, a visit to the lagoons for a first look at the newest member of the family was everybody's priority!

The little one is a fourth-generation DRC dolphin following down the line of Great-Granddolphins Delphi and Bee. Congratulations to parents Pandora and A.J., grandparents Merina and Kibby and various other family members -- both delphinid and human.

As is the norm, it could be weeks before we are able to tell whether this is a boy or a girl and it will be even longer before he or she has a name. We'll make sure to keep you updated!

If you're in the Keys or planning a visit soon, come on in and see the new family member and all of the others in the pod!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Soldier Ride Stops at DRC

Chief Operating Officer Mandy Rodriguez holds Jax during a Dolphin Encounter with several participants from the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride.

On Friday, participants in the Soldier Ride through the Keys visited DRC. 23 members from the Wounded Warrior Project enjoyed a great Dolphin Encounter. Three additional soldiers met dolphins from the dock.

The soldiers and their support personnel then sat down for a delicious lunch before heading out to continue their bicycle ride down the Overseas Highway.

Dolphin Research Center was honored to host this visit and salute the soldiers who have given so much to our country.

Tilden's Dive Shop loaned wetsuits for the swim participants. Hawk's Cay loaned towels. El Siboney in Marathon donated the delicious Cuban food for lunch. Publix donated the sodas and water. DRC's volunteers made cookies, brownies and other treats for dessert.

Wounded Warrior Project Outreach Coordinator Jonathan Pruden shares a flippershake with Merina!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DRC Helping Sea Turtles in Crisis!

DRC Team members Adam and Ted carefully transfer a rescued turtle from the boat to a wheelbarrow.

The recent prolonged cold snap in the Florida Keys has directly impacted many local species. Unlike dolphins and sea lions, who are protected by their blubber layer and can thermoregulate their body temperature, cold blooded animals like sea turtles can get stunned by severely cold water temperatures.

Countless sea turtles all over Florida are suffering. Here in the Keys, fishermen began reporting that turtles were floating on the ocean’s surface. In a short period of time, over 50 had already been transported to Marathon’s Turtle Hospital.

Dolphin Research Center is doing our part to help these critters in crisis. We are working closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife turtle biologist and the Marathon Turtle Hospital. When a report is called in that an affected turtle has been spotted in the waters around Grassy Key, we dispatch a crew on our manatee rescue boat to find and rescue the animal. Often, the crew spots other turtles along the way. This happened Tuesday when they went out to pick up a single loggerhead turtle but returned with three loggerheads and one green turtle.

Team members kept the turtles as warm as possible during the boat ride back to DRC.

The team brought the turtles on shore and prepared to transport them to the Marathon Turtle Hospital.

As of this writing, we’ve already brought in four additional turtles and the crew was heading back out for more. After bringing them safely back to DRC, we carefully transport the turtles by truck or turtle ambulance to the Marathon Turtle Hospital. At the hospital, staff and volunteers are providing care around the clock to warm up and revive the turtles.

The good news is that the cold snap is ending and temperatures are already beginning to warm up. Once it is safe to do so, all of the turtles that can be released will be taken back to the ocean and their natural environment.