There was once a time she faced an almost certain death. In April, a six-month-old baby dolphin was found stranded in a Louisiana bayou. Workers from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies rescued the animal and brought her to Marine Life in Gulfport for treatment.
She's the first baby dolphin to be injured in the wild and brought to Marine Life. Left without her mother, the odds were against the little orphan.
Administrator Lynnette Waid said because of the construction of a levy the dolphin "was left to fight for her life. When the mother was found dead we went over there and rescued her."
Thanks to some T.L.C. from the staff, the calf's chances at a long life are looking up. After getting a clean bill of health to be around other dolphins, something happened that the staff says rarely happens in the wild. Another dolphin named "Jill" adopted the orphan as her own.
"They do have aunties that help the new mother, but they usually don't have an adopted mother or a surrogate mother," said Waid. "Jill has been a surrogate mother to several of our other dolphins, and she's taken her right under her wing."
About ten years ago a stranded, orphaned baby dolphin would have had little chance of survival. Researchers at the Institute say technology has made a big difference.
"The nutrition that she would get from her mother, we've had to mimic that. With the science that we've developed in the last several decades of research on dolphins, we've been able to do that."
She may have gotten off to a rocky start, but now the baby dolphin can look forward to a life where she will never again be hungry or alone.
"She will definitely spend the rest of her days here at Marine Life living happily ever after."
The baby dolphin doesn't have a name yet. The staff says they're waiting for her personality to show more before deciding what to name her.