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In Perspective

After a 12-hour rescue and 6-month recuperation, dolphin C-6 is returned joyfully to the wild.

C-6, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin also known as Phillipe, is back among his buddies after six months in intensive care at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce. On August 31st, C-6 was netted after a 12-hour rescue operation and taken by marine mammal ambulance to the 100,000-gallon pool at Harbor Branch where a team of animal experts spent 24 hours a day by the side of the badly shark-bitten male dolphin.

Robin Friday, a veteran of 17 years at Sea World, and Dr. Greg Bossart, a veterinarian formerly at Miami Seaquarium, joined the recently formed Harbor Branch Dolphin Program with program founders Steve McCulloch and Marilyn Mazzoil, to keep a round-the-clock watch over C-6's recovery. A couple of dozen volunteers helped the staff with errands, pool cleaning and many other invaluable services and were present to share in the excitement of C-6's release on March 5th. Marilyn, who was operating the tracking boat for the release, tells us that he's been tracked near the Sebastian Inlet and spotted with as many as a dozen wild dolphins. "He's doing just fine," she says, "acting like a real wild dolphin, just as we had hoped." Judging from the size and types of bites C-6 suffered, animal behaviorists theorize that there may have been as many as three bull sharks as large as 12 feet long in the attack. Because some of the shark bites appear to be defensive, they also guess that C-6 may have been protecting a female dolphin and her calf, one of the family unit jobs performed by adult male dolphins within a pod.

Read the entire article in the Summer 2001 issue