On Saturday, February 20th, after receiving a tip from the East Hampton police on its 24-hour stranding hotline at 9:30 a.m., the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation set out on a mission to rescue a dolphin that was stranded on a private beach off of Lily Lane. A team, consisting of two Foundation biologists and an intern, arrived on the scene at 11:30 a.m., and after assessing the situation, the rescuers decided that the animal should be brought back to the Foundation’s hospital facility, arriving there at 1 p.m.
“Every effort is made to save marine mammals and sea turtles at our rehabilitation facility,” said Robert A. DiGiovanni, Jr., Executive Director and Senior Biologist of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. Once back at the Foundation, the dolphin was introduced into the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation’s cetacean tank and had blood samples taken to determine if any bacteria was present, and to check for other signs of illness. Following the evaluation, the animal was tube fed fluids to assist with rehydration.
On Sunday, the dolphin’s wellbeing had continued to decline. Blood was discovered in his gastrointestinal tract and the animal was having a tremendously difficult time attempting to swim. In the end, the heroic efforts of The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation had a heartbreaking conclusion when it was determined that the most humane course of action was to euthanize the dolphin due to its unlikelihood of making it through rehabilitation. “After consulting with veterinarians and animal husbandry team it was determined not to prolong the animals suffering and the most humane course of action was to euthanize the dolphin,” explained DiGiovanni Jr. “Although we always strive for a positive outcome, every animal is treated as individuals and we work to do what is in the best interest of the animal.” After a consultation with volunteer veterinarians, the dolphin was euthanized and passed peacefully on Sunday. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation works under the jurisdiction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and both organizations work together to achieve the best course of action.
“We appreciate the support from the public in our work,” added DiGiovanni Jr.
For more information about Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, visit www.riverheadfoundation.org.