A Dolphin Needs Your Help

We are working hard for the best outcome with “Birdie” and you can help our efforts by reading her story below, donating to offset her rehabilitation which is expected to be lengthy and costly and sharing her story with others.

At 3:30 AM on December 18, 2014 a sub-adult female Bottlenose dolphin was found stranded on Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. Upon notification the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN) immediately mobilized and found the need to transport Birdie back to the network’s rehabilitation facility where veterinary and rehabilitative care has been constantly administered.

The TMMSN staff and volunteers have been working vigilantly around the clock to monitor and care for “Birdie”, who received her name in honor of the Galveston County Sheriff Deputy who initially found and cared for her on the beach while awaiting the arrival of the TMMSN rescue team.

After getting Birdie to the TMMSN rehabilitation facility and completing early diagnostic testing, we focused recovery efforts on providing her nutritional support, hydration, antibiotic therapy and anti-parasitic therapy. While she required assistance feeding she continued to swim on her own, which was encouraging.

Birdie’s rehabilitation is still ongoing and she’ll need our continued help until she is well. Bloodwork, ultrasound and endoscopy have revealed that she has been dealing with lung lesions, gastric ulcers and parasites, all of which she is still receiving treatment for.

Will Birdie make it back to the Wild? Although release is a crucial part of our mission, at this juncture, we are focused on getting Birdie well. Once we have resolved her health issues and have the best information available concerning her condition, we will begin discussions with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding her final disposition, which is a legal requirement in the United States. Until then, we have a lot of work to do and we’re asking for your help!

The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network does not receive any guaranteed federal or State funding to operate. The TMMSN relies upon small grants, public support and volunteers to continue its mission statement efforts of Rescue, Rehabilitation, Research and Education.

Expenses are high for rehabilitation such as this and we appreciate that you are considering donating to this cause. Your donation will immediately be put towards medications, life support systems maintenance and direct facility costs that are critical in Birdie’s recovery effort. Birdies medication costs alone are currently running around $120 a day. By supporting the TMMSN you have the opportunity to be a positive influence in the rescue, conservation, education and research that is vital to our Texas shoreline and for the beautiful mammals that call it home.

To date a total of 80 volunteers have spent more than 2,000 hours taking care of Birdie 24/7. There is always someone observing her round the clock and recording behaviors that provide crucial information for her care and treatment. (read some of the volunteer comments at the bottom) Birdie is estimated to be 3-5 years old and is keeping the team on their toes with what is on the menu, Herring or Capelin, small fish or large ones. She is eating 75-100 lbs. of fish each week and at times she “eats like a bird” so we know that she is still far from being well enough to consider for disposition any time soon and that her rehabilitation could be lengthy.

In the wild, dolphins have been observed to be playful and curious, so Birdie is also provided with enrichment devices or “toys” to help stimulate and maintain that curiosity and allow her to play. Birdie plays by mouthing and pushing toys around the pool, and frequently rubs on brushes or a rubbing rope. Her favorite past time right now is rubbing on brushes…it helps her to slough skin off and no doubt feels very good. She loves to grab noodles in her mouth and drag them around the pool and frequently puts her chin on the hula hoop to push it underwater so that she can swim through the middle of it, which is usually a lot of fun for the volunteers to see. Her number one pick for a toy right now is a dive ring. She picks it up off the pool bottom and wears it around her nose (rostrum) and tosses it across the pool above the water. Then there are times where she is not interested in any of the toys which is a sign that she is still in the recovery process.

The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN) is a non-profit organization created in 1980 to further the understanding and conservation of marine mammals through rescue and rehabilitation, research and education. The TMMSN consists of six regions along the Texas coast, which provide a coordinated response to all marine mammal strandings along the Texas coastline.

Please spread the word. If you have colleagues, associates or even companies that would like to become involved in this donation program we would appreciate your help. Sponsorship opportunities also exist at the TMMSN annual fundraising event (the Land and Sand Family Fun Run) which is a 10k, 5k and 1k run that we have each year at the end of March which is a great wrap up for Dolphin Awareness month.

You can learn more about the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network on our website.  www.dolphinrescue.org 

To learn more, become a sponsor or to register for the fun run please visit our race website. Land & Sand Run  

We will post updates about Birdies progress on this page and you can follow her on our Facebook   page.

If we reach and exceed our goal for the Birdie campaign all the money raised will be used for her ongoing rehabilitation and for the TMMSN mission of rescue, rehabilitation, research and education.

The TMMSN staff, volunteers and the Board of Directors want to “Thank You” for your time and consideration.

We have a comment box for our Volunteers to share the experiences they have had with Birdie and we wanted to share some with you.

Volunteer comments:

“I love seeing Birdie’s “dolphinality” come out as she interacts with her enrichment toys”

“My favorite memory of Birdie is when I first witnessed her interacting with the newly introduced rope (seems to be her favorite!). She seemed happy, which is what matters most!”

“My favorite memory was after I came back from being gone for a while. Birdie seemed to have improved a lot and Heidi told me she likes to swim through her hula hoop now. When I saw her do it for the first time I thought it was so cute!”

“Birdie’s perseverance through rehabilitation is nothing short of inspiring.  Despite everything she had been through, she immediately swam on her own- a testament to the will and strength of animals. Hang in there Birdo!”
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Rodney Nelson 
Galveston, TX
Registered nonprofit
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