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.”