Hope’s Rescue Story
On December 11, 2010, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute received a call that a dolphin calf had been found in Indian River Lagoon on the East Coast of Florida. A local fisherman spotted her in the shallow waters, attempting to nurse from her deceased mother. When first responders arrived, they evaluated the dolphin calf and, in coordination with National Marine Fisheries Service, determined she should be transported to Clearwater Marine Aquarium for rehabilitation.
At the time of her rescue, Hope was estimated to be 2-3 months old. She weighed 58 pounds and was extremely dehydrated, lacking the milk she should have received from her mother. CMA was able to provide care and nutrition to nurse her back to full recovery.
During her rehabilitation process, Embassy Blue Institute and Ocean Embassy were consulted to assist with Hope’s initial care and formula. As a nursing calf at the time of her rescue, she did not possess any teeth. Bottlenose dolphins nurse until they are 18-20 months old. Her formula consisted of blended herring, powdered milk substitute, vitamins, oils and water. In the beginning, Hope was given 24-hour care and fed every two hours.
Although it is our goal to return every animal to their natural habitat, Hope did not make a good candidate for release because she was very young and had not yet learned the necessary skills to survive in the wild. Bottlenose dolphin calves learn these skills from their mothers, to whom they remain close for several years.
Currently, Hope is six years old and flourishing. She has been weaned and is now on a whole fish diet. Hope’s animal care specialists have taught her several behaviors for medical care, mental stimulation and exercise. She is adventurous, extremely curious and loves blowing and playing with bubbles and water toys, especially squirt guns.