For years, Marine Life in Gulfport was in place to promote, research, and showcase dolphins and other sea animals. Katrina destroyed the coast landmark, but one of the missions of the old Marine Life goes on.
Before the storm, Moby Solangi had begun work on a marine life research facility. Now, more than a year after Katrina, the research center is working to save the marine mammals still struggling.
Cajun, a two-year-old dolphin, was found stranded on Louisiana's Grand Terre beach. After the help of students and staff at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, this six foot dolphin is on his way back to good health.
"He's doing good. We come out here and feed him about four times a day. He gets about 13 pounds of fish right now. We are just trying to get him better," says Sandra Bohn, a student at USM.
Former Marine Life Director Dr. Moby Solangi agrees. He says it's very difficult to get animals along the coast that are healthy after they have been stranded.
"It's a unique opportunity to learn from these animals as to what happens in nature with them," says Solangi.
Students from the USM are also joining the effort to nurse Cajun back to good health. They say it's vital to marine life on the coast.
"We have one of the largest dolphin populations off the coast in this area and in the country. So there is a lot of dolphins out there. And I really think it's important to preserve them because they are really interesting animals," says Bohn.
To help better study animals like Cajun, developers are building a state of the art research center. The $3 million facility will feature an office, a museum and a conservation center. For now, it's all about research.
The Institute for Marine and Mammal Studies does research in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. The new IMMS Center will be open by the end of the summer. No word on when a public oceanarium may be built.