SeaWorld is standing by its commitment to help save animals
in the ocean as it finishes up a new dolphin medical facility next to its park in Orlando, Florida, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
The medical facility includes a 40,000 gallon pool where sick dolphins can be held for rehabilitation, a dolphin hospital and a food-preparation area.
"This is what we do," Brad Andrews, chief zoological officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, told the news source. "[Helping dolphins] gives us an extremely interesting example of what's going on with the wild populations. They're like the canaries in the coal mine as they come up on shore."
The new dolphin hospital will allow SeaWorld to treat local stranded dolphins, without the risk of subjecting its own healthy dolphins to illnesses that may be brought in by sick animals.
The hospital will also be off limits, by law, to visitors and tourists to allow the dolphins to rest.
A study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2004 found the historical average of bottlenose dolphin strandings for the Panhandle counties over the previous 10 years was 8 dolphins per year (not including the death tolls during unusual mortality events). Scientists are not exactly sure why dolphins strand themselves and it could be because of a variety of reasons, NOAA reports.