Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

(MML 9307, FB 206)

Age Class Adult
Gender Male
Date Stranded June 6, 1993
Location of Stranding Manatee river, Manatee County, FL
Date of Arrival June 6, 1993
Number of Days of Care 107

Final Disposition

Released on 22 Sep 1993

bottlenose dolphin jumping out of the water

bottlenose dolphin being treated by multiple people

Freeway was initially negatively buoyant, weak, unable to swim, and his respirations were shallow. Fresh shark bite wounds (bull shark) were not immediately life-threatening. Bloodwork showed anemia and elevated WBC. Ultrasound exam of chest pleura on June 9 revealed substantial pleural fluid on right side, etiology unknown. Multiple thoracenteses were performed over a 2.5 month course before the condition resolved. The dolphin was treated with fluids, antibiotics, ulcer medications, anthelminthics. On June 10 he began to eat, and he began to swim on his own on June 15. Freeway was moved from the back of the shark tank to a bay pen on June 16.

On July 26 a GI emergency occurred, believed to be acute colic. His behavior consisted of tight circular swimming pattern with vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and difficulty in getting to the surface to breathe. His symptoms gradually resolved over the next ~8 hours.

Freeway was released at the mouth of the Manatee River and was seen several times over the next 6 months.


  1. Continuing 24 hour care probably saved this dolphin's life
  2. Ultrasound-aided thoracentesis worked; caution on removing all the fluid at once due to possible rebound effect.


Gorzelany, J. F. and Wells, R. S., "Longterm resightings of two stranded bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) rehabilitated and reintroduced into southwest Florida waters." Society for Marine Mammalogy conference, Orlando, FL, 1995.

Additionally, Freeway's rehabilitation and reintroduction was featured on a segment of the cable channel Animal Planet- "Wild Rescues".

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