Updated on May 31, 2024

April 27 is Marine Mammal Rescue Day! To celebrate, we’re highlighting the work our friends and Association of Zoos and Aquariums members, do to save our marine mammal friends!


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

In March, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s Stranding Response Program responded to a mass common dolphin stranding event on the Chesapeake Bay side of the Eastern Shore. Throughout the month, the team received dozens of phone calls from citizens reporting dolphin sightings and strandings. The Stranding Response Team actively monitored the dolphins’ activity and conducted necropsies to collect samples for information on a causative agent and other research studies. Analyses will continue to be conducted over the next several months. Some notable findings from this event:

  • Weather and strong storms often play a role in stranding of offshore species.
  • Several stranded dolphins were found with a combination of infectious disease, malnutrition and increased parasite burdens. While weather likely played a role in this specific event, they’re researching further with the help of federal and academic partners.
  • While varying in age from juvenile to mature, many of the stranded dolphins found were females.

What should you do if you come across a stranded marine mammal or sea turtle? It’s important to remain a safe distance from the animal and call an expert for guidance. You can find more information about ways to help our marine friends here.

stranded dolphin rescue


Cincinnati Zoo

Since joining the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership in 1999, the Cincinnati Zoo has cared for 23 sick, injured or orphaned manatees and has released 18 healthy, rehabilitated manatees back in Florida waters! They’re one of three zoos outside of Florida who rescue and care for manatees.

Some threats to manatees include:

  • Lack of food
  • Red tide (when algae grows out of control)
  • Cold stress
  • Entanglement from nets and other fishing traps
  • Being struck by boats & boat propellors
  • Calf abandonment

We would be remised if we didn’t introduce you to SwimShady, Alby and Manhatten – their most recent success stories! Once orphaned, these guys are growing and gaining weight and will soon be ready to be returned to Florida waters. Fun fact: manatees must be at least 600 pounds to be deemed ready for the wild.

Here are their stats of March 30. Way to grow, boys!

SwimShady – 604 pounds (gained 300 pounds since his arrival)
Alby – 684 pounds (gained 280 pounds since his arrival)
Manhattan – 585 pounds (gained 180 pounds since his arrival)

three manatees in water

Mote Laboratory & Aquarium

In partnership with SeaWorld Orlando, Mote Laboratory & Aquarium saved two manatees! A call to Mote’s Stranding Investigations Programs in May 2020 lead them to a stranded manatee near Siesta Key, Florida. Showing signs of fresh boat wounds and difficulty swimming, Mote teamed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to start the rescue. The manatee was transported to SeaWorld Orlando where it was discovered that she was pregnant! After giving birth to a healthy calf and some much needed rest, mom and baby were brought back to Sarasota and released back into the wild near Mote’s campus. Talk about teamwork!

rescued manatee


Sources: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Cincinnati Zoo, Mote Laboratory & Aquarium, Association of Zoos and Aquariums

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