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Nicholas's Story

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Species: Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Stranded: 12/24/02, near Gibsonton, FL

Story: Found at only 6 months old, with severe sunburns covering 30% of his body. His mother Noelle was also rescued, but just didn't make it.

Personality: Typical teenage boy, smart and energetic

Loves: Figuring out problems during training sessions

Known For: Doing a flip or two when he gets an answer right

Can Be Found: Burning off energy with acrobatics in his tank

Did You Know? Nicholas lived on milk from his mother until he was rescued. The CMA staff had to teach him to eat fish when he got older!

Most Likely To: Splash you during a show

Nicholas's Tale:

On December 24, 2002, a female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin and her calf stranded near Gibsonton, Florida and were transported to the Florida Aquarium. They were then relocated to Clearwater Marine Aquarium for long-term medical care. In honor of their Christmas Eve arrival, we named the cow "Noelle" and her calf, "Nicholas". The 380-pound adult female, Noelle, had sustained third degree burns around her dorsal fin and was believed to have respiratory illness. Unfortunately, she passed away on December 27, 2002. The 120-pound orphaned calf, Nicholas, quickly lost 30 lbs. upon arrival and was also suffering from second and third degree sunburns. The burns covered over thirty percent of his body. With the severe burns leaving him prone to infection plus the loss of his mother and natural nutrition, Nicholas' condition became critical. Nicholas was provided 24-hour care for several months. The largest concerns for Nicholas were nutrition, antibiotics, and wound care.

At the time Nicholas was estimated to be around 6 months old and due to the fact that he was not fully weaned, a specific formula was produced to imitate his mother's milk. After several months of bottle-feeding the animal care staff was able to wean him onto whole fish. With the help of constant wound care management Nicholas's burns healed up faster than expected. It took only about 9 months for all of the wounds to completely heal. During his wound care management the training staff was able to successfully train Nicholas to present voluntary body examination layouts, blood draws, and stretcher work.

It was determined that Nicholas did not make a suitable candidate for release because of his dependent status at the time of his stranding and rehabilitation. He lacks the necessary survival skills, such as hunting and protecting himself from predators, all of which he can only learn from his mother. Atlantic bottlenose dolphin calves will associate with their mothers for several years and during that time they will learn all the necessary life skills needed to be in the wild. Today Nicholas is doing great and is always ready to show off what he knows!