MARATHON, Florida Keys — A juvenile dolphin airlifted to the Florida Keys from his rehabilitation center in Texas is doing well and getting acclimated to new surroundings and people, according to marine mammal experts at Dolphin Research Center.
The orphaned male calf dubbed Ranger was rescued in June 2021, after being discovered stranded in waters around Goose Island State Park in Texas suffering from an underlying respiratory infection and dehydration. Found near his dead mother, the dolphin was taken to the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center for care.
At just two years old, he was deemed too young to forage and survive in the wild, and the National Marine Fisheries Service selected DRC as his permanent home.
“Ranger is doing just fabulously here at DRC,” said Linda Erb, DRC’s vice president of animal care and training “He’s eating like a champ. He’s interacting and playing with his toys and he’s actually started to make more sounds. I think he hears our dolphins during the day, so he’s making all kinds of sounds in air which is really fun to see.”
After an initial monitoring period in a medical quarantine pool to build up his immune system, Ranger is to slowly be introduced to other resident dolphins and acclimate to the facility’s dolphin lagoons in Florida Bay.
“Ranger is now in our medical pool, in our quarantine area, and that’s because he’s just come in to our family, so we’re going to make sure that he doesn’t have anything going on,” Erb said. “But the goal for this little guy is to get him out there to meet his family.”