13 April 2015

Ocean Adventure team rescues stranded dolphin

SUBIC, ZAMBALES – A Dolphin Rescue Team from Ocean Adventure, a theme park at the Subic Bay Freeport, rescued a male rough-toothed dolphin on Thursday with the assistance of local members of the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN).

Dr. Leo Suarez, staff veterinarian at Ocean Adventure, said that the rough-toothed dolphin that was first spotted by residents swimming close to the shoreline at about 7 a.m. had ‘’already lost his buoyancy, and is very weak.”

At the time, first responders of PMMSN waded into the water and held the stranded dolphin afloat for over two hours before the rescue team arrived.

A crowd that had gathered were asked to keep their distance and minimize noise as it would only add to the distress of the animal.

Upon arrival, Suarez, along with Ocean Adventure marine mammal experts and volunteers, examined the dolphin and collected a blood sample for analysis. The dolphin was then carefully placed in a stretcher and carried to the boat where he was transported to the Dolphin Rescue and Rehabilitation Center at Ocean Adventure.

Dick Mendigorin, a local member of PMMSN, said he first saw the dolphin at about 7 a.m. and then ‘’guided him to where we can keep his [blowhole] above the water so he can breathe.”

Mendigorin was helped by two other locals, a fisherman and an Army personnel, in keeping the dolphin afloat. They took the dolphin near a boat, where they improvised shelter for the animal, and took turns caring for him until the Ocean Adventure team arrived.

Suarez praised the efforts of Mendigorin and the others who cared for the dolphin. He told Headline Gitnang Luzon that “based on what we saw, their response was good – and their training definitely helped.”

Suarez added that based on his initial diagnosis of the animal’s condition, it is likely the dolphin is suffering from ‘’acoustic trauma. The dolphin will be provided 24/7 care by staff and trained volunteers to keep him safely afloat and to closely monitor his condition. Once we get the blood results we will give him the proper medications, fluids to hydrate him, and begin to offer him fish this afternoon.”

He noted that six dolphins have been brought to Ocean Adventure in the last year due to injuries caused by dynamite fishing. Two died, including a Frasers Dolphin named Julius from Pangasinan. The other three survived but suffered permanent hearing loss. Fondly referred to as the Dynamite Girls, they are living in the open water lagoons at the Park.

Another rough-toothed dolphin, April from Ilocos Sur, is currently being rehabilitated under the care of veterinarians at the Rescue Center.

Gail Laule, Chief Operating Officer of Ocean Adventure, said that ‘’as this rescue has shown, the work of the PMMSN is crucial for saving the lives of these stranded animals. We have to train local members of the PMMSN because they are the first responders. With their help we can now begin the process of hopefully nursing the dolphin back to health. “

Laule said that, in recent years, the PMMSN network ‘’has grown considerably, with over 3,000 trained first responders nationwide, and is now virtually unparalleled in the world. It is truly something that Filipinos should be proud of. And we are honored to be one of its founders and prime movers. “

Laule added that anyone interested in becoming a trained volunteer and member of the PMMSN “should contact Ocean Adventure through our FB page, or call 047-252-9000.” (Mhike R. Cigaral, Headline Gitnang Luzon)