We're All Ears, And So Are Dolphins


February 14, 2017

This past November, the SeaWorld Orlando Rehabilitation Center received a male bottlenose dolphin, considered to be in “critical” condition, after being found stranded in Sanibel, Florida.

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Upon his arrival, SeaWorld’s veterinarians and animal care staff immediately began providing the dolphin with fluids and antibiotics and conducted a complete health assessment.

As the SeaWorld Orlando animal care team continues providing round-the-clock care for this rescued dolphin they are also in search of reasons for his stranding - the loss of his ability to echolocate being a possibility.   Echolocation is a tool used by dolphins which helps them find food, navigate through their environment and socialize with other dolphins. Sounds pretty important, right? Well it is. Echolocation works by projecting high-frequency sound waves and listening for their echoes as the sound waves reflect off objects. The use of echolocation is crucial for dolphins’ survival in the wild.

In June 2015 SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team began caring for a rough-toothed dolphin that was discovered beached on the shoreline of Clearwater Beach. After nearly eight weeks of care for this animal and numerous tests all showing normal results, SeaWorld’s leading experts began to believe the dolphin might be suffering from hearing loss - they were correct.

In August of the same year this rescued rough-toothed dolphin was diagnosed deaf and, because hearing is so crucial to the survival of dolphins in the wild, it was deemed by National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the rough-toothed dolphin would require long-term care. The hearing tests performed on this animal were critical in determining how his rehabilitation would continue.

Last week, SeaWorld’s veterinary team assisted a representative from NOAA with a hearing test on this most recently rescued bottlenose dolphin. The test showed the dolphin can hear and the team remains hopeful he will continue to improve and ultimately be able to be returned to the wild.

Since his arrival the dolphin has been eating on his own and has shown a steady increase in weight, important steps in the total rehabilitation process.

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SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team is always on call to rescue and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. In collaboration with several government agencies and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 29,000 animals in need for more than five decades.

If you see an injured marine animal, you can help by calling the Florida Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

And check back for more updates about this and other rescues! And for a closer look, ask to speak with a member of the SeaWorld Rescue Team at any of the SeaWorld parks.

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