Displaying items by tag: release

Video and Images of Today's Beach Release

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(Grand Isle, La.) – Today, Audubon Nature Institute and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in coordination with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and Chicago Zoological Society's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program released a juvenile male dolphin into Barataria Bay. The dolphin is the first to be rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild off Louisiana’s coast.

“This is a truly notable event,” explained Mandy Tumlin, the Louisiana State Stranding Coordinator for marine mammals and sea turtles. “Dolphins can be deemed non-releasable for a variety of reasons, such as a medical condition that may hinder their ability to survive.”
On October 26, 2015, biologists from LDWF responded to a report by a private citizen of a live, stranded dolphin on Grand Isle Beach. Based on initial evaluations, the 6.5-foot-long juvenile dolphin was responsive. High water and rough seas associated with Hurricane Patricia likely contributed to the cause of the stranding.
“It’s unknown how long the animal was on the beach before he was discovered, but that period of time was a definite strain on him,” said Tumlin. “Dolphins are accustomed to buoyancy when in the water, so there is significant strain on their muscles when the animal is stranded and take on their entire body weight."
“We had a short window to diagnose whether the animal could be released or brought back to Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center (FMASSC) in New Orleans for treatment,” said Audubon’s Stranding and Rescue Coordinator Gabriella Vazquez. “He was lethargic and had short, shallow breaths. We attempted a soft release in the surf, but he showed no initiative to swim back into the Gulf.”
The dolphin was transported to FMASSC and made positive progress in the following months of evaluation and treatment.
Named “Octavius’’ in an affectionate nod to the Audubon veterinarian caring for him, the dolphin responded well to treatment and was able to swim on his own.

In order to determine if the dolphin was a candidate for release, specific milestones needed to be met. First, he was required to pass behavioral clearance. Vazquez explained: “Octavius showed no signs of abnormal swimming, breathing or diving behavior. Importantly, he had not become desensitized to humans – which is crucial because human interaction with dolphins in the wild can be a problem.”
Tumlin further explained, “Animals can often become dependent on humans for food and other resources following time in rehabilitative care. Dolphins are very intelligent animals. Over time, they can learn to associate humans and boats as a source for food, which is why it is illegal to feed them in the wild.”
Next, the dolphin passed an “auditory evoked potential test” administered by Dr. Dorian S. Houser, Ph.D., Director of Conservation and Biological Research for the National Marine Mammal Foundation, and showed no signs of hearing impairment.
Finally, Octavius passed medical clearance, including blood work and veterinary examinations, showing no indication of congenital defects or medical issues that would hinder his ability to survive in the wild.

Because Octavius was only 190cm in length at stranding, he could be as young as 1 year or as old as 7 years (best age estimate is ~3 years). Because there is the possibility that he could be a dependent calf (if he were 1-2 years old), he is being considered a “conditionally releasable” animal. Both LDWF and Audubon are responsible for stringent post monitoring protocols outlined by NOAA/NMFS. Staff will be required to monitor this animal in the wild over the next six weeks.

"Audubon and LDWF have been working tirelessly to care for Octavius," said Vazquez. "While there is still more critical work to be done with post-release monitoring, we have given this animal the best chance for a successful return to the wild."

Dr. Randy Wells, Director of the
Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program affixed a tag to the dorsal fin of the dolphin allowing staff to monitor him in real-time. “The tag allows for satellite tracking as well as radio tracking. Since he could be a younger animal, this type of monitoring is necessary to ensure he is thriving back in the wild,” said Tumlin.
LDWF Secretary Charlie Melancon added, “While this animal is not completely out of the woods, this is a remarkable story demonstrating the success of our strong partnership with Audubon Nature Institute, working together to preserve this species for future generations. We are happy to be able to return this animal to the wild in its natural environment today.”
LDWF leads the response for sea turtles and marine mammal strandings, and Audubon Nature Institute works closely with the department as a response partner to collect data about existing populations of animals along Louisiana’s coast and waterways and to assist and support researchers in the conservation of marine species.
“This is one of the latest in a series of successful stranding network rescues across the country,” said
Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums
facilities make up roughly 25 percent of non-governmental response partners.  According to NOAA, “Over the last decade, 7,979 marine mammal standings have been reported in the Southeast region with an average of 798 strandings per year."
“This cooperative group of partners has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 200 sea turtles and marine mammals since 2010,” said Forman. “It is critically important that we all work together to save animals in the wild.”
“We are particularly grateful to the public who continually assist us with our recovery efforts by reporting these strandings to our department,” said Melancon. “Robert Shannon, the individual who first discovered the dolphin lying beached on its side, likely saved this animal's life.”
The public can contact LDWF’s stranding hotline at (337) 962-7092 or Audubon Coastal Wildlife at (504) 235-3005 if they encounter an injured or stranded (live or dead) marine mammal or sea turtle or report strandings through NOAA's Dolphin & Whale 911 app for your smartphone (

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Audubon Nature Institute
Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.


Alley Cat Allies marks 12th year of annual event with calls for positive, sustainable change


BETHESDA, MD – Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, is counting down the days until the 12th annual National Feral Cat Day® (October 16) by urging advocates around the country to start planning now for events and programs that raise awareness about feral cat care, Trap-Neuter-Return and the need for positive, sustainable change for all cats in communities large and small.


“Since Alley Cat Allies started National Feral Cat Day® 12 years ago, we have celebrated the increasing number of communities that have adopted humane and effective programs for cats,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. “We are encouraged by the success we have witnessed and thank our supporters as we continue to grow this movement nationwide.”


Robinson noted that National Feral Cat Day® is not just a single day, but an opportunity for supporters to rally for longer-term change with programs that make a difference in the lives of cats and best address their communities’ needs: starting a TNR program; holding ongoing educational workshops; expanding low-cost spay/neuter clinics for feral cats and pet cats; or encouraging policymakers to adopt common-sense initiatives that protect and improve the lives of cats.


Alley Cat Allies will mark this year’s National Feral Cat Day® with a special webinar on Trap-Neuter-Return basics. Alley Cat Allies will also offer discounted pricing on humane traps to help supporters expand TNR programs. More information, including a full listing of event ideas and other resources, will be available at www.alleycat.org/NFCD. [NOTE TO EDITORS: This web site will be live beginning July 13.]


Alley Cat Allies launched National Feral Cat Day® in 2001 to raise awareness about stray and feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return, and recognize the millions of compassionate citizens who care for cats. Since then, more than 250 local nonprofit organizations have been formed to educate their communities about feral cat colonies and carry out TNR programs.


“TNR is a positive and sustainable program because it stabilizes the population while respecting the lives of cats and the needs of the communities in which they live,” said Robinson.



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About Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has more than 260,000 supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives cats and kittens nationwide. Their web site is www.alleycat.org.


When the 5-year-old orca was first found ill off the coast of Holland, the plan was to rescue, rehabilitate and return her to the wild as soon as possible. Marine biologists found her pod in the wild by matching her calls to theirs, and she was nursed back to health.

But then two marine parks including Loro Parque (in the SeaWorld conglomerate) got involved, and saw an opportunity to make money off of Morgan's captivity. According to advocates, "a female orca that can both breed and introduce new genes into the pool of captive killer whales is an underwater ATM potentially worth millions of dollars."

Jackie Kelly worked at an animal hospital for 15 years. She knows how an animal's environment impacts its mental and physical health and thinks no wild animal belongs in captivity. So Jackie started a petition on Change.org calling for the marine park that now holds Morgan, SeaWorld Loro Parque in Tenerife Spain, to release her immediately. Click here to sign Jackie's petition calling for Morgan the orca to be released back to the wild, not held captive in an amusement park.

The impact of captivity on marine mammals can be severe -- many don't survive their first year out of the wild and others experience severe stress and illness. So every day Morgan remains in captivity, the slimmer her chances of survival back in the wild become.

Already, almost 5,000 people have signed Jackie's petition to release Morgan. But SeaWorld Loro Parque needs to hear a global groundswell to realize it won't get away with exploiting Morgan for its own profit.

Click here to sign Jackie's petition demanding that Morgan the orca be returned to her home in the wild immediately.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

-- Stephanie and the Change.org team