New Orleans,
08:30 AM

Dolphin and Calf Rescued After Being Trapped in Louisiana Bayou


On November 9th, Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network (CWN) and their partners in the Southeast Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network rescued and released a dolphin and her calf that were trapped in a bayou in Grand Chenier, Louisiana. The pair were presumed to have been out-of-habitat due to coastal flooding associated with Hurricane Laura. 

The rescue team was coordinated by NOAA Fisheries and included Audubon Nature Institute, the National Marine Mammal Foundation, Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, SeaWorld Orlando and San Antonio, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, and NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement. 

“This rescue, along with other rescues associated with the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts from our partner organizations,” said Audubon Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding, Rescue, and Rehab Coordinator Gabriella Harlamert. “We are thankful for the continued support of our partners and that we were able to positively impact marine life in Louisiana.” 

Before release, the mother was satellite-tagged to monitor her movements post-rescue. The Chicago Zoological Society's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, funded by the NOAA John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program, provided the tags and will track the mom remotely for the next several months, which will provide valuable data on the success of the rescue and where these individual dolphins range, which will contribute to a better understanding of overall dolphin movements in Louisiana. 

Since September, Audubon and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network have successfully rescued and released a total of six bottlenose dolphins that were presumed to be trapped from Hurricane Laura. 

It is common for the storm surge and increased coastal flooding associated with hurricanes to cause marine mammals to strand on land or be washed into inland waterways where they are not typically observed, such as lakes and canals. Animals may be found in these areas for weeks to months following the hurricane, requiring rescue by trained and authorized responders to return them to their natural habitat. 

All six of these rescues were made possible due to the public reporting these strandings to CWN. The public is advised to report all stranded or out-of-habitat marine mammals and sea turtles (live or dead) to CWN at (504) 235-3005. 

When reporting strandings, the public should be prepared to give:

  • Exact location and/or GPS coordinates
  • Photographs of the animal
  • Nature of the report (type of animal/live or dead/size, etc.)

Recommendations when reporting a live stranded animal include:

  • Put human safety above animal safety. If conditions are dangerous, do not attempt to approach the animal.
  • Keep crowds away and noise levels down to avoid causing stress to the animal.
  • Don't push an animal on shore back into the water.
  • If the animal returns to the water on its own, don't attempt to interact with it.
  • Leave all entanglements that may be present on the animal.

Coordinated by Audubon Nature Institute, CWN serves as NOAA Fisheries' primary Marine Mammal Stranding Network partner in Louisiana for responding to and rehabilitating marine mammals.

CWN is committed to the humane care and treatment of injured, ill, or displaced marine animals in Louisiana and is the only entity in the state responsible for the rehabilitation of live marine mammals and sea turtles. The information CWN collects from stranded animals provides a snapshot into the health of the marine environment and provides a better understanding of threats to marine mammals and sea turtles in the wild.

The public can support Audubon's continued work to protect and preserve the natural world by contributing to or visiting Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium.

Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.