Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network

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


Capture Site Clam Lake TX.jpg (34324 bytes) Open Water Clam Lake TX.jpg (43218 bytes) Initial Assessment.jpg (47439 bytes) Boat Transport.jpg (52211 bytes)
Transport from Lake to Beach.jpg (58125 bytes) Beach Release Site.jpg (42683 bytes) Dolphin Carry to Beach.jpg (72605 bytes) Gulf of Mexico Release.jpg (35221 bytes)

Nessie is a Bottlenose dolphin displaced after Hurricane Ike into Clam Lake--a shallow body of water located in McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge near Sabine Pass, TX. The TMMSN received about half a dozen reports since September of 2008 that there was a dolphin in the marsh-bound lake but after multiple surveys by truck, ATV, and airboat by TMMSN staff and volunteers over the next few months the animal was never sighted, and no photographs were ever captured by the witnesses of the animal swimming around in the shallow water.

During the spring and summer of 2009 a couple of reports from local fisherman began to trickle into the TMMSN (800)9-MAMMAL hotline and TMMSN staff once again resumed surveys to visually confirm the existence of the dolphin which by this was dubbed "Nessie" after the elusive Scottish Loch-ness monster.


Finally, in August of 2009, the TMMSN obtained photographic confirmation of Nessie and a rescue plan began to take shape. With staff and gear in place for the rescue of Mohawk down in South Padre Island, we seized the opportunity to relocate Nessie during the same week of activity.

On August 29, 2009, the team gathered at Clam Lake at 0730. The team consisted mostly of TMMSN volunteers, but we leaned heavily on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists who generously volunteered their time and boats to the relocation effort. Also assisting with the rescue was Steve McCullough, of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and Frank, a volunteer from Mote Marine.

Even with the still air and water like glass, Nessie maintained her invisibility for some time before she was spotted, barely surfacing above the water. Within seconds of sighting Nessie, we had her surrounded and safely restrained. Despite a previously healed amputation of her right pectoral fin, the veterinary team deemed her healthy, and indeed, she was actually quite plump--evidence she had been feeding well.

After the veterinary team took the necessary samples and photographs and attached the roto-tag for identification, Nessie was transported a few hundred yards by boat to the TMMSN rescue truck and driven the short stretch to the beach. She was successfully released into the Gulf of Mexico less than 4 miles from where she was found.