Gulf World Marine Institute

What To Do

If you see a stranded or deceased dolphin or sea turtle, please immediately report to Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission:  1-888-404-3922

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!


A Brief History 

Gulf World Marine Institute Inc.  has taken over the duties and responsibilities of the longtime successful stranding program operated by Gulf World Marine Park Inc. (“GWMP”).  GWMP 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. 

Map of Stranding Response Area  

NMFS stranding agreement with GWMP states the geographical boundaries are  from Walton County, Florida to Wakulla County, St Mark’s River. GWMP has been an acitve participant in NMFS Southeast Regional Stranding Network and the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program . Due to GWMP rescue and rehabilitation capabilities, NMFS has requested GWMI assistance outside of the region.  GWMI is willing to accept certain species of marine mammals outside of our geographical area that are in need of rehabilitation provided that GWMI has the space and available resources for that species successful rehabilitation. 
Map to be inserted soon.....

Organizational Purpose

Who we are…..

Gulf World Marine Institute, Inc. (GWMI) is an established nonprofit business working in concert with its commercial partner, Gulf World Marine Park, Inc. (GWMP).  Over many years, the Park has provided the Florida Panhandle coastal region a variety of public services through its facilities and by its staff in leading efforts toward the three GWMI core programs, which are 1) to lead, assist and manage the recovery and rehabilitation of stranded, sick or injured marine mammals and sea turtles, 2) serve as an education tool, and 3) benefit marine and oceanographic research.  Like other commercial marine entertainment venues, Gulf World Marine Park, Inc. is supporting the establishment of Gulf World Marine Institute, Inc., to further extend and enhance the widely recognized work it s oceans and its sea life inhabitants. 

Gulf World Marine Park, Inc. will maintain for profit public display activities independent of those that Gulf World Marine Institute, Inc. will inherit.  The Institute’s activities will continue to further develop the humanitarian, cultural, educational, and research programs related to local and national government agencies, and acquire authorizations to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Department, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, among others.  This organizational structure is an established marine conservation and research business model employed by other nonprofit collaborations like the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute.  Our similar mission is to respond to sick, injured or stranded animals, rehabilitate and release into the wild and to serve as an educational resource to schools throughout our area; and to help facilitate and disseminate our knowledge and empirical and scientific data to an extensive list of approved research projects and institutions.  

GWMI would like to share the profiles of some of the animals that were rescued and survived the transport to our Stranding Care Center for rehabilitation. Depending on the situation, the mammals are rehabilitated and either released back into their natural habitat, or were deemed non-releasable by NMFS, and placed with an Alliance Accredited Marine Facilities that best suits the animals social standing.
We will be adding adding information on this site on how you can help.  Please check back frequently.