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. 
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.

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