An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin that was stranded on a sand flat in Tampa Bay in September died early Sunday at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota after intensive rehabilitation efforts, according to a Mote rescue specialist.
An adult male dolphin, nicknamed Feeny, was discovered Sept. 17 by state wildlife first-responders after receiving an alert from anglers. Some improvement was visible in his early rehab but Feeny's condition deteriorated last week.
“The vet staff had given him a thorough exam on Friday morning and he had shown no improvement,” Mote's specialist said in an email to the dolphin's caregivers. “They knew the circumstances were dire.”
Feeny was receiving 24-hour care at Mote’s Dolphin and Whale Hospital. Early last week Feeny was swimming on his own, eating, and gaining weight.
“Feeny was in loving care, and he passed away peacefully in the arms of our wonderful staff and volunteers.”
Mote said later in a press release that Feeny became disoriented about 1 a.m. Friday and started to lean to one side. Blood tests indicated his blood cells were not regenerating. Feeny was also losing weight again.
Feeny was found almost a month ago on a sandbar during low tide in east Tampa Bay and was examined by NOAA workers. The dolphin arrived at Mote in critical condition, including a diagnosis of anemia, dehydration, and pneumonia.
The on-scene responders included staff and volunteers from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a Clearwater Marine Aquarium veterinarian volunteer. Feeny was transported to a boat ramp where CMA workers tried a deep water test. The dolphin showed some signs of attempting to swim and vocalize but was still lethargic. Mote was selected to rehabilitate the dolphin.
Mote said a necropsy will be performed but results may not be available for several weeks.
The dolphin was nicknamed Feeny after a character from the 1990s sitcom “Boy Meets World,” according to Mote.
In the email, staffers and volunteers were told, "We can't thank you enough for all of the commitment, compassion, and time from your own lives that you have shared with us."
» Photo of Feeny via Bradenton Herald
» Captive breeding may be the last chance to save Florida's grasshopper sparrow, North America's most endangered bird. (Via Audubon)