GACFS is authorized by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Nation Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) to respond to strandings of non-endangered marine mammals in northeast Florida. Along with trained veterinarians and volunteers, GACFS staff are on call 24/7 to respond to dolphin, small whale and occasionally large whale stranding events, in which they serve as marine mammal paramedics to assess and triage the animal, recover and provide transportation to a rehabilitation facility, or conduct a post-mortem examination to determine the potential cause of death when necessary. By comparing the data collected from strandings to the data collected from local health assessments, our staff can help to illuminate regional threats, contaminants and diseases.
GACFS is authorized under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as verifiers for the Florida manatee to confirm individual cases of distress and assist authorized network members in all aspects of rescue, transportation and rehabilitation.
In 2010, GACFS, along with Georgia Aquarium and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, rescued and released seven loggerhead sea turtles off the beach of Jekyll Island. These animals were fitted with scientific satellite tracking devices so their migration, behavior and progress can be tracked to current locations and studied. Learn more about their incredible journey here.
In this year alone, GACFS staff has responded to over 20 calls for assistance with animals including bottlenose dolphins, pygmy sperm whales, dwarf sperm whales, manatees and sea turtles.