Harrison County

How do dolphins fly to Gulfport? With help from the Seabees.

Theo Womack, left, and Connor Hawkinson assigned to Naval Construction Group 2 and members from the Institute of Marine Mammals Studies push a dolphin tank onto a truck to transport dolphins from Keesler Air Force Base to IMMS. Navy program handlers and veterinary personnel transported three dolphins from the Navy’s facilities at the Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific in San Diego to Keesler to be loaned to IMMS for extend breeding and studies to further marine mammal science.  IMMS is a research and rehabilitation facility that is known for providing care to stranded animals.
Theo Womack, left, and Connor Hawkinson assigned to Naval Construction Group 2 and members from the Institute of Marine Mammals Studies push a dolphin tank onto a truck to transport dolphins from Keesler Air Force Base to IMMS. Navy program handlers and veterinary personnel transported three dolphins from the Navy’s facilities at the Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific in San Diego to Keesler to be loaned to IMMS for extend breeding and studies to further marine mammal science. IMMS is a research and rehabilitation facility that is known for providing care to stranded animals. U.S. Navy

Three trained bottlenose dolphins arrived in Gulfport on Monday all the way from San Diego, California.

The dolphins are on loan to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies "for extended breeding and studies to further marine mammal science," said Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport spokesman Brian Lamar.

Navy program handlers and veterinary personnel transported the dolphins from the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific facility in San Diego to Keesler Air Force Base. Seabees then took them to IMMS.

“In addition to training animals, we also collaborate with other institutions to enhance the understanding of marine mammals and to propagate marine mammal science,” U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program Transport Coordinator Christian Harris said in a release. “We are partnering with IMMS to share some of our animals on an extended loan; we’re transporting those animals from our base through Keesler with the support of the Seabees to get them safely configured in their new home.”

The dolphins were previously involved in a variety of capability demonstrations and bioacoustics research projects for the Navy.

The Seabees who assisted in the transportation called it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I am more than excited for my troops to be able to participate,” NCG Transportation Supervisor, Equipment Operator 1st Class Alexander Quesnel. “I’ve been in the Navy 14 years and this is the first time I’ve experienced anything close to this so it’s great for my troops to be involved in this operation.”

Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport was home to 14 dolphins before Katrina made landfall. Six dolphins were relocated to swimming pools on higher ground before the water began to rise, but the remaining eight “Katrina dolphins” weathered the histor

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2326, @patrickochs
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