Rough Toothed Dolphin "Notch", Tag # 39381
On March 2nd, 2005 at approximately 4:30pm a call came in that a mass stranding had been identified in Marathon Key in Monroe County. Soon thereafter, the call was confirmed as a mass stranding of Rough Tooth Dolphins. Although the count of the animals that had stranded changed throughout the course of the next several hours due to limiting light, rescue efforts were immediately initiated by MARS personnel along with the Marine Mammal Conservancy, the Florida Keys Marine Mammal Rescue Team, the US Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Monroe County Sheriff and the National Marine Fisheries Service. On March 4th, MARS transported a 9 foot male and an 8 foot female to its critical care facility at the University of Miami on Key Biscayne.
It is extremely rare for marine mammals, such as dolphins or whales, which strand alive to survive rescue & rehabilitation attempts and successfully return to the wild. This makes the successful return to health, and pending return to their ocean home, of Notch & Naia particularly significant. Of the 70 rough toothed dolphins which stranded on March 2nd 2005 in Marathon, Florida, 18 (26%) were returned to deeper waters and did not attempt to strand again; 20 (28%) died at the stranding site.
The remaining 32 dolphins (46% of total) were brought to 3 rehabilitation centers being manned by experienced rehabilitation teams. Of the 32 dolphins brought to treatment sites, currently 11 are alive and in continued care, which constitutes 34% of the rehabilitation number and 16% of the total dolphins involved in this event. With the release of Notch & Naia, the current success rate for this stranding event is already higher than usual, at 6% of the rescued dolphins which entered rehabilitation being returned to the wild. All the organizations involved are to be commended for their dedication and cooperation which has contributed to this success, which will hopefully be repeated with the dolphins still receiving treatment and care.
The community of agencies and organizations which make up the Stranding Network work together and consist of approximately 400 response organizations, of which 42 facilities are equipped to conduct rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals. In the five year period of 1994 - 1999 there were a total of 5,901 cetacean (whales, dolphins) strandings in the USA; 3,683 of which were in the South East region. The rehabilitation of a whale or dolphin costs between $50,000 - $120,000 per animal. Food for Notch & Naia, consisting of fish and squid, and costs $500.00 / week - medications, vitamins and other rehabilitation costs are in addition to this basic food expense. Public donations make it possible for all these necessities to be met and MARS would like to thank the many people who have contributed both monetarily, and with their time, to make this rehabilitation a success.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore has generously donated a satellite tag, worth $2,500.00 for tracking the initial activity and location of Notch & Naia. Notch (adult male) was fitted with the tag on his dorsal fin on 4/17/2005. The tag is attached with surgical pins and zinc bolts/washers so that it will dissolve in time and the tag will eventually fall off the dolphin. The transmissions will last 2-3 months and track their geographic location and activity. The National Aquarium in Baltimore has agreed to evaluate the daily transmissions and provide the tracking data so it can be viewed on www.MarineAnimalRescue.org as well as their own web-site www.aqua.org as a donation. WhaleNet is compiling the data for educational purposes.
- - -MARS Updates
On April 20, 2005 at approximately 10:11am EST Notch and Naia made it back home. The rehabilitation effort accounted for over 10,000 volunteer man hours and donations from companies like: The University of Miami, Baptist Hospital, Harrison Cranes, The Ritz Carlton of Key Biscayne, and Miami Seaquarium just to name a few. On the day of release, Miami Metro Dade Marine Patrol units and Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission officers assisted the United States Coast Guard in a release of Notch and Naia.
- - -NAIB - Animal Tracking Information
Map of "Notch"
More seal data is available in the current WhaleNet Listserv 39393. Sort and go to FIND for "39393" entries.