Dolphin Becomes The First to Be Released Back Into The Wild Off Louisiana Coast
After being found on a beach last year, Octavius became the first dolphin to be rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild off the coast of Louisiana.
Louisiana State stranding coordinator Mandy Tumlin said that because not every dolphin can be released into the wild, "this is a truly notable event."
Though other officials said the animal is not quite "out of the woods," they are considering Octavius' release last week a success.
According to a press statement by the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, the dolphin was discovered beached last October by a passerby on Grand Isle Beach.
Officials originally believed the 6.5-feet-long young dolphin was healthy, but they soon discovered that he was unable to swim away when brought back to the ocean.
"It's unknown how long the animal was on the beach before he was discovered, but that period of time was a definite strain on him," Tumlin said, including that any time away from water can strain a dolphin's muscles.
Officials then brought Octavius to Audubon's survival center, where the dolphin was treated and nursed back to health over six months.
Officials said they only had a short period of time to determine whether Octavius was fit for release. If the dolphin was exposed to human interaction for too long, he could have become dependent on humans, which could become a weakness in the wild.
Octavius, whom officials estimate to be about three years old, passed their tests with flying colors, but officials have determined he is "conditionally releasable," and they said they plan to monitor him closely post-release.
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The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program led by the Chicago Zoological Society implanted a tag to his dorsal fin to allow their researchers to track him via satellite and radio.
"Since he could be a younger animal, this type of monitoring is necessary to ensure he is thriving back in the wild," Tumlin said.