Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals through rescue and rehabilitation, research and education.

Donley aka "The Don"

Donley - Young Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Rescued, Rehabiliated, and Transported to a Permanent Home

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March 15, 2010
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January 26, 2009 Update--Donley's new home has been determined and he will be joining the animals at Sea World San Antonio! We are so pleased that Don will have a wonderful home that is so close to us. More details on Don's transfer will follow as they become available.

Meanwhile Don continues to do well and is as playful as ever! His personality has really started to shine, so we are looking forward to his interactions with other dolphins soon.


December 31, 2009 Update--Donley met a major milestone and we wanted to share it with you! For the first time since his stranding, Don was able to feed without anyone in the water to assist him yesterday and has been feeding well on his own ever since. He is still being hand fed fish from the side of the pool but willingly swims into position at the feed station and is anxiously awaiting each feed. Although it may not seem like the last two months have gone by so quickly for the feeders assisting him in water, Don has truly made outstanding progress for the short amount of time he has been with us. Thank you for all of your hard work in getting him to this point!

Also, Don finally got up enough courage over the last two days to interact consistently with his toys and it has been a lot of fun to watch his personality grow. He really seemed to have a ball with his enrichment brushes this morning.

Check out the new photos of Don’s toy and volunteer interactions added to his December slideshow on his webpage.

We hope to hear more on Don’s new home next week and will post an update as soon as we have more information, so be sure to check our website often.

Thanks again for all of your support and we look forward to working with you in 2010!

December 12, 2009 Update - The National Marine Fisheries Service having reviewed the stranding, developmental, medical and behavioral history of Donley has determined that he is a non-releasable animal. Due to Donley’s young age, partial maternal dependence and circumstances surrounding his stranding, his chances for survival in the wild are considered unlikely.

TMMSN has requested that Don be placed with other animals as soon as possible to address his social needs and for long term care. Facilities interested in caring for Don long term will be evaluated by NMFS based on a questionnaire that has been developed specifically for his needs. NMFS will spend the next few weeks reviewing these applications and will be making a decision regarding Don’s new home soon. We will update you as soon as we know more info.

Thank you TMMSN volunteers for all of your hard work with Donley!

December 2, 2009 Update - Thanks to the contributions of TMMSN supporters and members we were able to scratch together enough money to get an electric outdoor heater for the Aquacell and a little extra to afford Donley some additional enrichment.  Thanks again and enjoy the latest Donley photos in the new slideshow posted on this page.

November 25, 2009 - Update - Don is acclimating to his new TMMSN environment and making progress each day. The rake marks he initially stranded with are healing well. He enjoys spending time chasing live fish which were added to his tank for enrichment and is just beginning to nudge other enrichment toys as well.

Don began taking whole dead fish through force feeds over the weekend and seems to be more accepting of the fish at each feed. Donley has not had any additional tube feedings for the last 48 hours because he is handling the fish so well. Don is on the right track and should be able to eat the fish on his own soon. A determination regarding his future release status has not yet been decided by NMFS but his case is currently being reviewed.

November 9, 2009 - A quick update on “Donley” the dolphin: The little guy arrived at the aquacell in Galveston Sunday evening and seems to be adjusting well to his new tank. The next few weeks are going to be very important for him as he is still being tube fed formula and trying to learn to eat whole dead fish. He spends much of his time vocalizing and is quite active. We will update you as he progresses soon.

If you are a trained volunteer and would like to sign up for a shift with Donley, please call the pool phone. Or, if you would like to make a donation towards Donley’s care, you may click here. All supplies for rehabilitation are appreciated. We are in need of bleach, antibacterial dishwashing soap, paper towels, bottled water and Home Depot or Wal-mart gift cards for additional supplies. Thank you so much for all of your help and we look forward to seeing you soon!

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November 6, 2009 - Well, it’s time to get in our rehab gear again! The young dolphin that stranded earlier this week in Corpus, named “Donley”, is doing well and has been cleared for transport to Galveston for the remainder of his rehabilitation. He has been swimming and diving on his own without any assistance from volunteers but we still need plenty of assistance with observation shifts. If you are a trained volunteer, please sign up for a shift next week if you are able to. We look forward to working with everyone again.

November 3rd, 2009 - Volunteers in the Port Aransas Region rescued a young male bottlenose dolphin this morning from Mustang Island. He has been transported to Texas State Aquarium for stabilization. TMMSN volunteers are currently supporting the dolphin in the water but he is making attempts to swim on his own. An initial assessment and bloodwork is being completed. More information will follow as it becomes available.