Rocky, a juvenile Risso's dolphin was originally found struggling in the surf at Cape Henelopen State Park, Delaware on July 31, 2004 at 7:30 am. First to respond were local marine mammal rescue personnel from the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute http://www.merrinstitute.org/. Once stabilized Rocky was transported eight-hours to the Riverhead Foundation's dolphin hospital tank located at the Atlantis Marine World Aquarium. At the time of his arrival Rocky weighed 480 lbs and was suffering from a life threatening respiratory infection. After 8 months of rehabilitation and 10 tons of squid, Rocky has been given a clean bill of health by Riverhead Foundation veterinarians Robert Pisciotta, North Fork Animal Hospital and Richard Hanusch, Aquebogue Animal Hospital. Rocky's successful recovery marks the first time this species has been rehabilitated in the United States.
Risso's dolphins are rarely encountered within inshore waters but instead prefer the steep upper continental slope, where water depths generally exceed 1,000 feet. Risso's dolphins are also called "grampus" and are marked by distinctive white linear scarring characteristic of teeth markings from other Rissošs Dolphins or by their squid prey. Risso's dolpins are primarily squid eaters and due to their preference for deeper water very little information on their biology and migratory patterns have been defined.
Preparations for release will include the attachment of satellite tag and VHF radio transmitter to the dorsal fin. The data on Rocky's movement's as well as his diving patterns will be transmitted via satellite and then relayed to the Riverhead Foundation where it will be made available to visitors at the Atlantis Marine World Aquarium.
Rocky will be transported to his release site aboard the R/V SeaWolf, Stony Brook University Marine Sciences Research Centeršs 80 ft. research vessel. The R/V SeaWolf will transport Rocky approximately 40 miles offshore to an area rich in squid and marine life. "This is a wonderful example of how the Marine Sciences Research Center can meet its public service mission by partnering with a private foundation, such as the Riverhead Foundation which shares our concern for the marine environment," said David Conover, Dean of the Marine Sciences Research Center. The transport to the release site is anticipated to take 4-5 hours and will begin at 6:00 am with a grand procession and escort from multiple vessels including the US Coast Guard through the Shinnecock Inlet out to sea.
A diary of Rocky's road to recovery is available at www.riverheadfoundation.org. For additional information on how individuals and corporations can assist with Rocky's release please call 631-369-9840
Map of Rocky's travels.
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