NEVER LET ANYONE PUSH THE ANIMAL BACK INTO THE GULF! Animals strand for a reason and
it is normally a result of being sick or injured. These animals need medical attention!
Send someone to call CMA (727-409-5389) with this information. Even if the public has
already called the police or Marine Patrol, chances are they did not have complete information.
Be careful! Cetaceans are often quite docile animals, but it must be remembered that they
are wild animals, which may use their beaks (rostrum), tails, and teeth as weapons to protect
themselves. One should respect their strength and not place oneself in the swinging range of the
flukes or rostrum. If possible, the animal should be approached from the side or behind, rather
than near the head.
KEEP WATER OUT OF THE ANIMAL'S BLOWHOLE! Cetaceans breathe through the blowhole; therefore,
it is imperative to keep water from going down the blowhole into the lungs. Generally they breathe
every 20 - 30 seconds (about 2 - 3 breaths per minute for dolphins). The respiratory cycle
consists of a quick exhale, quick inhale, and a longer breath-holding period. Germs, worms,
and other matter may be forcefully blown out of the blowhole.
Protect the animal's skin! Cetacean skin is designed to be wet constantly. If not wet,
dolphin skin quickly dries out, and may crack. Therefore, water should be gently and quietly
scooped onto exposed skin. Cetacean skin is also prone to sunburn. Sunburn will appear as
darker than normal skin color, and may or may not blister. The animal should be kept shaded
whenever possible. The most common sunscreens can damage and burn dolphin's skin, therefore
it is important to only use 100% zinc oxide. In leui of this, towels, shirts, newspaper, mud
(without rock, shells, etc.) can be used to cover the back peduncle. DO NOT cover the blowhole
located on the top of the head. Cetacean skin is very delicate, and sloughs constantly.
Because the skin is so delicate, fingernails, wetsuit zippers or jewelry can easily cut it.
As with most other mammals, the internal body temperature of cetaceans is near our own
(~ 96 - 98 degrees F). Cetaceans alter blood flow to their flippers, dorsal fin, and flukes,
which act as radiators to stabilize the body temperature. Members should feel the dorsal fin
and any other exposed skin. If it feels warm to the touch, additional water should be used to
cool it off. Be sure not to cover the dorsal fin, pectoral fins, or flukes as this will can
cause the animal to overheat.
Cetacean eyes constantly produce lots of clear mucus. If a dolphin is swimming, this mucus
often washes away. If the dolphin is unable to swim, this mucus may be easily seen. Protect the
eyes by clearing away debris, sand, shells, and anything else that could cause damage.
Stress can actually cause stranded dolphins to deteriorate quickly and eventually die.
Hold the animal as gently as possible. Use the least number of people possible to support the
animal while maintaining control (usually 2 persons for an adult dolphin). Move slowly and be
quiet and calm. Keep crowds of people away!