Young male bottlenose dolphin being rehabilitated after washing ashore on Fort Walton Beach

Special to Gannett
The young male dolphin weighs about 76 pounds, and must be monitored 24/7

Monday afternoon, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission alerted the Florida Panhandle marine mammal response crews to a young bottlenose dolphin that had washed ashore in Fort Walton Beach. Staff members at Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR) responded, and after determining that the animal was a candidate for rehabilitation, contacted Gulf World Marine Institute (GWMI).

The animal was stranded during an intense storm, and was fortunate that the members of the public knew not to push him back out into the rough surf. The young male dolphin weighs about 76 pounds and must be monitored 24/7. As with all debilitated animals that wash ashore, observers must be alert to his condition and behavior at all times.

So far, he has done well in habitat with staff members, and staff is working to get him to regularly nurse from a bottle to supplement the natural behavior he would be doing with his mother. Bloodwork was collected to test for possible infections that might have caused his stranding.

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All marine mammal response activities are conducted under appropriate Stranding Agreements with National Marine Fisheries Service

For those interested in donating to GWMI’s stranding and rehabilitation efforts go to www.gwmi.info. Marine mammal rehabilitation efforts are extensive and expensive, and any help is appreciated.

Marine mammal rehabilitation can cost over $10,000 in the first week alone. All marine mammal response activities are conducted under appropriate Stranding Agreements with National Marine Fisheries Service.