After six months, Octavius is back in the sea where he belongs, with a few stories to tell.
The juvenile male dolphin, the first to be rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild off Louisiana’s coast, was sent into Barataria Bay on Thursday.
Audubon Nature Institute and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in coordination with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and Chicago Zoological Society's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program coordinated the release.
“This is a truly notable event,” said Mandy Tumlin, the Louisiana State Stranding Coordinator for marine mammals and sea turtles in a news release. “Dolphins can be deemed non-releasable for a variety of reasons, such as a medical condition that may hinder their ability to survive.”
On October 26, 2015, biologists from LDWF responded to a report of a live, stranded dolphin on Grand Isle Beach, according the release.
“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,” said Tumlin.
“We had a short window to diagnose whether the animal could be released or brought back to Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center (FMASSC) in New Orleans for treatment,” said Audubon’s Stranding and Rescue Coordinator Gabriella Vazquez. “He was lethargic and had short, shallow breaths. We attempted a soft release in the surf, but he showed no initiative to swim back into the Gulf.”
The dolphin was transported to FMASSC and made positive progress in the following months of evaluation and treatment. Named in an affectionate nod to the Audubon veterinarian caring for him, the dolphin responded well to treatment and was able to swim on his own.
Octavius passed all necessary tests and evaluations and was then released.