The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network has a live stranding once again, this time a dwarf sperm whale calf. Both the mother and calf came ashore as a tropical storm hit Galveston on Saturday, but the mother died.
Diane and I did volunteer work with the TMMSN while we lived in Galveston, from 1994 to 1998. While the live stranded animals get the press response, as in this current case of the dwarf sperm whale calf, TMMSN recovers many, many dead stranded animals for every live stranding that happens. Dr. Dan Cowan of University of Texas Medical Branch does necropsies on the dead animals to obtain further information about the health status of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico.
But when a live stranding happens, TMMSN has to mobilize squads of volunteers for around-the-clock care of the stranded animal. Veterinary care is arranged, and the logistics of setting up a recovery tank, maintaining its water quality, and providing an appropriate diet have to be done, and done quickly. Live strandings are uncommon and full rehabilitation and release are pretty rare. Generally, cetaceans have to be pretty ill or disoriented to end up as stranded animals. There is a lot of Texas coastline, so one would expect prompt response only in the case of stranding along fairly popular areas. In the present case, the stranding took place at Jamaica Beach, a small town on the west end of Galveston Island, and during the summer vacation season.
TMMSN and other marine mammal stranding organizations around the country could use financial help to do their job. If you have the means, please do contribute. If you are in the Galveston area, consider volunteering with TMMSN. They will need pretty much everyone available to fill out schedules during a live stranding.