Gulf World Marine Institute

What To Do in Case of Stranded or Distressed Sea Turtle or Marine Mammal

If you see a stranded or deceased dolphin or sea turtle, please immediately report to Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission: 


Please also report if you see a dolphin or sea turtle acting suspiciously, beaching themselves, or a sea turtle with fishing wire entanglements.  We very much appreciate your assistance to keep our animails safe!


2010 Cold Stun pierTurtles
A Brief History 

Gulf World Marine Institute Inc. (Institute) will assist Gulf World Marine Park (Gulf World) with the duties and responsibilities of the longtime successful stranding program operated by Gulf World. Gulf World has participated in stranding work since 1970 and is considered one the leading rehabilitation facilities in the NMFS stranding network. All history, data and records have been transferred to Gulf World Marine Institute (“GWMI”) and much of the expertise will be carried on by staff members that will continue to work with and for the Institute. They include Ron Hardy, GWMI Board President, with over 25 years of working with strandings and participating in stranding workshops. Secret Holmes, GWMI , Animal Curator with over 20 years of stranding experience and was past director of Gulf World Marine Parks stranding program. Dr. Lydia Staggs, GWMI facility veterinarian, was veterinarian for Gulf World Marine Parks stranding program. Historically, one of the founding fathers of veterinarian medicine for stranded marine mammals is Dr. Forrest Townsend and he is on the GWMI Board of Directors. There will be many individual staff members and volunteers working with GWMI that bring years of stranding experience with them.  The amount of expertise amongst its Board of Directors and Staff is enormous. 
——Gulf World Marine Institute Incorporated (GWMI) is proud to be part of the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network and the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network. We work under a permit from National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission. Within these stranding networks, Gulf World plays an important role in rescuing and rehabilitating injured marine mammals and sea turtles throughout the Florida Panhandle.  It is the mission of Gulf World Marine Institute to provide funding and operational assistance and services related to the rescue, rehabilitation and release back into their natural habitat of marine mammals and sea turtles, as well as to facilitate scientific research and provide educational opportunities related to such work.

Gulf World Marine Institute serves as the only long-term marine mammal rehabilitation facility in Northern Florida which administers short and long term rehabilitative care to animals as part of its collaborative relationship with partner institutions such as the National Marine Fisheries. Over the years, our stranding team has come to the aid of thousands of sick or debilitated stranded marine animals. 

Gulf World Marine Institute - Now Hiring

POSITION:  Stranding Coordinator for Gulf World Marine Institute (GWMI)

Location: Panama City Beach, FL

Compensation: Salaried Position with Benefits

Please send cover letter and resume to by February 12, 2015

Job Summary:  Demonstrate excellent representation of GWMI at all times through a positive, can-do attitude and focused work ethic. Responsible for assisting the Institute Director with the execution of duties associated with GWMI's Animal Rescue Program.  These duties include: rescue and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals and sea turtles, maintenance of all rehabilitation facilities, answering and responding to calls of stranded marine mammals and sea turtles, and coordinating the schedules of the stranding program volunteers.

Minimum Requirements for Position:  Must be willing to consistently provide full time assistance for stranding calls and responses.   Must be willing to work with a diverse group of people with a wide variety of experience.  Must be able to work well with Institute Director and Staff Veterinarian.  Bachelor of Science degree or minimum 4 years experience in related field.  Must have good understanding of stranded marine mammal and sea turtle rehabilitation.  Must have public speaking experience.  Ability to work under harsh weather conditions.  Ability to develop stranding teams and work well with members as well as work independently when required.  Must be able and willing to assist in animal necropsies, experience preferred but not necessary.  Strong communication skills (oral and written) and computer expertise is required.  Grant writing skills are highly desirable.  Valid driver's license and a good driving record.  Must be physically able to execute the work of the position.  Must be able to lift 50 lbs.  Must be legally able to work in the United States.  Weekends and scheduling flexibility required.

Responsibilities & Essential Functions: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.

  • Perform all other duties as assigned by Institute Director and Staff Veterinarian.  Responsible for staffing a 24-hour hotline for reports of stranded marine mammals and sea turtles in stranding area.
  • Appropriately coordinate field response/rescue of stranded marine mammals and sea turtles.
  • Assist with overseeing the daily operations of the rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals and sea turtles including animal care and facility maintenance.
  • Oversee the training of all volunteers within the Animal Rescue Program and coordinate the scheduling of rehabilitation volunteers.
  • Collect Level-A data and specimens in the field and assist with carcass disposal, when necessary.
  • Provide educational information to the public when responding to stranding reports.
  • Assist in conducting public outreach programs, and media relations.
  • Conduct or assist veterinarian in necropsy examinations both onsite and in the field including, but not limited to, clean-up and waste management.
  • Write and implement new standard operating procedures.
  • Coordinate release of rehabilitated marine mammals and sea turtles.
  • Perform accurate data entry into GWMI, FWC, and NOAA Fisheries databases for all reported sightings and stranding’s.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the hazards employees and volunteers are exposed to and must be certain that volunteers are properly trained in the use of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that will protect them from that hazard.
  • Insure employees and volunteers have the appropriate safety training needed in their position.
2010 Cold Stun pier

Turtles at Troy Deal on Cape San Blas, Florida.

1800 Turtles were taken to GWMI from St. Joseph Bay.

Over 1400 wee rehabiliated and released to their natural environment.


Cold Stun St. Joseph Bay, Cape San Blas, 2014

Kayakers patrolled the bay and brought in many Ridley's, which are critically endangered.


January 2014, Cape San Blas, Florida

Gulf of Mexico, rare beaked whale stranding.

JuliaRidley Successful release of rehabiliated green, loggerhead and Kemps back to their natural envirornment in the Gulf of Mexico.

GWMI has been receiving much press coverage for all of their efforts.

Doriscalf Meet Doris.  Doris beached herself during Hurricane Ivan in 2000.

The NMFS deemed her, and two others, unreleasable.

 Admin Login