Guy Harvey Magazine

FALL 2017

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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44 | www.GuyHarveyMagazine.com The ride back to Orlando was about an hour, but it took doctors and rehab specialists five months to get Rodeo healthy enough to reintroduce him into the wild. And, that was no easy task. When Rodeo, or any marine mammal arrives, it's like pulling up to the Emergency Room. The medical team shifts into high gear. Dolphins are placed in the stranding pool, and are given constant care by a minimum of two people, 24 hours a day. "Rodeo had two people looking after him around the clock for five months," said Jon Peterson, the manager of Rescue Operations at SeaWorld Orlando. "In situations like this, everything is recorded—what they eat, when they pee, when they pass feces...everything." According to Peterson, when a sick or injured animal arrives, the veterinary team starts diagnostics immediately. They do blood work, take stomach samples, stool samples and review everything over the next 24-hour period to determine what treatment the animal needs, such as antibiotics for infections. "The goal is to get them eating real food as soon as possible," Peterson said. "We know that's the fastest road to recovery when they can eat their natural food source. When they're strong enough, we feed them live fish so they can keep up their hunting skills. For Rodeo, we mostly fed him live pinfish and croakers because that's what he normally eats." Once the diagnostics on Rodeo were complete, they came up with a medical protocol for rehab and then continued with further diagnostics such as X-rays, biopsy, ultrasound and even testing for viruses and other diseases. They also did a bronchial scope on Rodeo to confirm if he had pneumonia. After intensive treatment, Rodeo eventually recovered and gained enough strength to return to the wild. For that to happen, the National Marine Fisheries offices at NOAA have to give their approval. When the big day arrived, everyone was involved—SeaWorld, the HSWRI, the National Marine Fisheries, as well as the people who reported the stranding. "We like to reconnect with the people who helped with the rescue when we're ready to return an animal to the water," Jablonski said. "So, we kept in touch with Margaret and let her know when Rodeo would be released." Rodeo was rescued in June and released in November. But before he was returned, Jablonski and her team went to SeaWorld to prepare him for his homecoming. "We worked with Jon Peterson to apply a radio tag to the trailing edge of his dorsal fin so we could track him and make sure he was eating and reintegrating," Jablonski said. The radio tag sent a signal every time Rodeo surfaced so they were able to keep tabs on him for about 60 days, which is the average life of the battery. Also, the tags are designed to corrode and fall off at about the same time. "We located Rodeo a few times and he was doing great. After his tag came off, we were still able to identify Rodeo and monitor his progress during routine SeaWorld Orlando, HSWRI and the National Marine Fisheries monitoring Rodeo following his return. Photo courtesy of SeaWorld. Left: SeaWorld Orlando preparing to return four rehabilitated manatees.

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