When pods of dolphins or whales become beached along the coast, volunteers are eager to assist in a rescue effort.
“The instinct is to jump in and help,” says Beth Smart, founder of the Dolphin and Marine Medical Research Foundation in West Palm Beach.
Knowing what to do quickly and efficiently is essential because they quickly dehydrate, Smart says, so she has helped develop protocols for volunteers. Smart and the foundation also sponsored the training of a dog to detect stranded dolphins that may be hidden in vegetation, such as mangrove roots. Cloud, an 8-year-old black Lab, lives in Key Largo, where Smart says she remains “on call.” The last major dolphin stranding was in 2005 when about 80 rough-toothed dolphins floundered off Marathon. Pods of pilot whales stranded off Cudjoe Key in 2011 and Fort Pierce in 2012.
City & Shore caught up with Smart to find out what keeps her swimming with the dolphins.
— Elizabeth Rahe
The Dolphin and Marine Medical Foundation, 561-753-3670, dmmr.org.