Mote Marine Laboratory is treating an adult male dolphin that was found stranded on the east side of Tampa Bay.
Anglers spotted the dolphin stranded on a sandbar on its side at 10 a.m. on Thursday. They called the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline, and staff and volunteers from the FWC and Clearwater Marine Aquarium came to rescue the dolphin.
“The fishermen did the right thing by calling us right away,” FWC biological scientist said in a press release. “It is very important to never push a stranded marine mammal back into the water. We asked them to move the dolphin into an upright position and keep it wet until we could arrive at the scene. The fishermen volunteered to stay with the dolphin until we arrived, which was a huge help.”
The responders brought the dolphin to a boat ramp, where they determined he was not strong enough to immediately release. The dolphin showed signs of attempting to swim but was lethargic. The volunteers transported the dolphin to Mote for rehabilitation, where it was found he was underweight and dehydrated and showed signs of infection, anemia, pneumonia and other metabolic abnormalities.
The 258.5-pound dolphin, nicknamed “Feeny” after Mr. Feeney from “Boy Meets World,” remains in critical condition but has shown signs of improvement. He has been swimming without assistance since Sunday and is eating all the fish he is offered.
“Our team at Mote is always at the ready to help marine animals in need,” Lynne Byrd, Mote medical care and rehabilitation coordinator, said in the release.
Mote’s hospitals have treated 71 dolphins and whales since 1992 and more than 450 sea turtles since 1995.
The cost of rehabilitating a dolphin can cost between $600 to $1,000 per day, so Mote is asking for donations to go toward its hospitals. To donate, visit mote.org/donate.