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Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release of Marine Mammals: An Analysis of Current Views and Practices

July 01, 1996

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-8

Stranded marine mammals have long attracted public attention. Those that wash up dead are, for all their value to science, seldom seen by the public as more than curiosities. Animals that are sick, injured, orphaned or abandoned ignite a different response. Generally, public sentiment supports any effort to rescue, treat and return them to sea. Institutions displaying marine mammals showed an early interest in live-stranded animals as a source of specimens -- in 1948, Marine Studios in St. Augustine, Florida, rescued ;a young short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala rnacrorhynchus), the first ever in captivity (Kritzler 1952). Eventually, the public as well as government agencies looked to these institutions for their recognized expertise in marine mammal care and medicine. More recently, facilities have been established for the sole purpose of rehabilitating marine mammals anti preparing them for return to the wild. Four such institutions are the Marine Mammal Center (Sausalito, CA), the Research Institute for Nature Management (Pieterburen, The Nether,- lands), the RSPCA, Norfolk Wildlife Hospital (Norfolk, United Kingdom) and the Institute for Wildlife Biology of Christian-Albrects University (Kiel, Germany).

Last updated by Office of Protected Resources on 01/23/2018