Chicago Zoological Society helps Florida dolphin calf swim to safety

The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program has led two dolphin rescues in just over two months. The program is run by the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo.

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Fergie, a year-and-a-half-old dolphin calf, had fishing line cutting into his tail as he swam near Marco Island, Florida, causing a multi-organization rescue effort.

Fergie, a year-and-half-old dolphin calf, was rescued from an entanglement with fishing line last week near Marco Island, Florida.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

With a little help from Chicago, a year-and-a-half-old dolphin calf named Fergie survived a life-threatening tangle with fishing lines near Marco Island, Florida, last week.

The Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program led efforts to remove the fishing line from Fergie’s tail, clean his wound and administer antibiotics, according to a Thursday news release from the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo.

This is the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program’s second dolphin rescue in just over two months, the news release stated.

“We are extremely happy with the outcome of this situation, but we sure wish that we didn’t have to take these measures at all,” Randy Wells, vice president of marine mammal conservation for the society, was quoted as saying in a statement. Wells also is director of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program.

Two people hold up Fergie the dolphin calf’s tail, which has been entangled with fishing lines. This rescue occurred near Marco Island, Florida.

Scientists removed fishing line from the dolphin calf’s tail after waiting two and a half hours for him to swim to shallower water. The situation was deemed life-threatening by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Chicago Zoological Society/Sarasota Dolphin Research Program

The Chicago Zoological Society has operated the Florida-based Sarasota Dolphin Research Program since 1989.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service declared Fergie’s entanglement life-threatening, kicking off a rescue effort involving about 50 people from about 10 Florida organizations that do marine animal rescues, according to the release.

First, the team waited around two and a half hours for Fergie to swim to shallow waters. Then, scientists executed the rescue in under a half-hour, the release stated.

Fergie was swimming with his mother, a dolphin named Skipper, at the time, according to the release. Skipper was rescued from an entanglement in 2014, as was Fergie’s brother Seymour in 2012.

Wells stressed the importance of taking precautions when fishing.

“Entanglements and other human-induced injuries to dolphins can be prevented,” Wells said in his statement. “Getting fishing gear out of the water when dolphins are nearby, as well as securing gear considered trash such that it can’t get into the environment, can eliminate this risk to dolphins.”

Fishing lines removed from Fergie the dolphin calf’s tail are displayed alongside a ruler on top of a black box. Fergie was rescued by organizations from the Florida stranding network near Marco Island, Florida.

Fishing lines like the ones removed from Fergie’s tail pose a serious threat to marine animals, said Randy Wells, vice president of marine mammal conservation for the Chicago Zoological Society and director of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program.

Chicago Zoological Society/Sarasota Dolphin Research Program

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