Letter from the President
Happy Summer, Everyone!
I am so excited to announce that we are launching a monthly newsletter from the DPMMR crew! For those of you who remember us wayyy back in the day, when we were Dolphins Plus Oceanside (1980-2017), Lloyd Borguss edited and compiled a monthly newsletter called the “Dolphin Dialogue”. We would love to rekindle this tradition in a fresh format and provide our supporters with updated information regarding our resident dolphins and staff, our rescue/response work, research updates, including new publications and contributions to the greater scientific community, news from our wild dolphin Photo ID project, as well as facility updates and fundraising campaigns.
We hope you enjoy a look behind the scenes at DPMMR!
If I had to classify the year 2020 so far (without the use of unsavory language) I would call it a rollercoaster. The year started off like gangbusters in February, with our most successful Connect to Protect Gala thus far, raising over $80,000.00 for DPMMR’s mission, during a fun-filled evening in February with DPMMR friends, family, supporters, and donors. Then, almost immediately following this joyful event, news hit of the Corona virus and, as for many of you, it felt like the whole world stopped spinning. Refunds poured out of our bank account by the tens of thousands as guests cancelled their spring break plans, the 18-mile stretch leading into the Florida Keys closed, and “entertainment” businesses in Monroe County were mandated to close as well. Like many other local Keys businesses, DPMMR shut its doors to guests for the first time, ever, for 2 months, during what is normally one of our busiest and most lucrative months of the year, March and April. Fortunately, due to PPP and SBA loans, DPMMR was able to retain each and every employee on staff and continue salaries at a reduced rate during this challenging time.
Yet, despite all of the chaos, what can I say about DPMMR? We are small, but mighty… sort of like the “Little Engine That Could”. We are all still here, caring for our amazing resident dolphins, who are all doing very well, and remained cared for by our incredible team throughout the 2 month closure. We are open and still inspiring the general public with our amazing animals, staff, and programs to care about marine conservation. We are also still responding to sick and injured marine mammals, a task that continued and still continues, despite the new world of COVID-19. In fact, this year so far, our stranding team has responded to four separate bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) stranding events, including two deceased and two live animals. One of the live dolphins was discovered entangled in a lobster trap and immediately released. The other live stranding was a calf stuck in shallow water that was promptly returned to awaiting conspecifics. The DPMMR responders have also assisted other local conservation organizations in five manatee (Trichechus manatus) rescues, involving six individual animals. Five of those animals were successfully rehabilitated and released, and the sixth remains in rehabilitative care at Miami Seaquarium.
What’s the vibe for success for the rest of 2020? I would say, “adapt and be flexible” both personally and professionally. I am proud that DPMMR is still open to the general public and that our mission and team are holding strong. With our new COVID-19 protocols, each guests’ temperature is taken, we stagger guest check-in to reduce the number of people in our gift shop, social distancing is marked and practiced throughout the facility (which is mostly outdoor), masks are required while not in the water, hand sanitizer is required upon entry and prior to any dolphin interaction, and our overall guest capacity has been reduced to allow for separate sessions and maximize social distancing.
Whelp, that’s my take on 2020 so far at DPMMR. We would sure love to see you if you are interested in visiting our marine mammal family for an experiential learning opportunity! If you are a local, get ready for our Local’s Special, which is coming in September this year, instead of October. Who’s ready to reduce some stress with some dolphin time?
Stay safe and be well,