How can we respond to stranded/entangled marine mammals in South Carolina without a stranding truck or funding?
Posted by Tiffany Humphrey | South Carolina, United States
South Carolina has over 2,000 miles of coast and shoreline yet only ONE stranding network. There are no marine mammal rehabilitation centers in the entire state. The stranding network in funded through Coastal Carolina University but due to an error by the CCU HR department, CCU did not get awarded the Prescott Grant, which it has used in the past to fund it's two part time employees. The two employees are stationed in Charleston at the NOAA lab and up until recently were allowed to use their trucks and boats. A new director however came on-board and now the two stranding network employees are not allowed to use the NOAA trucks or boats since they are state employees and not federal employees, leaving the stranding network stranded. When there is a stranding the employees have to rent a truck from Enterprise and at times there aren't any available. South Carolina has been seeing a increase in the number of crabpot entanglements and time is of the essence when responding to live entanglements. The time in which it takes to locate and rent a truck from Enterprise could mean the different between life and death. The number one stranded animal in SC is Tursiops truncatus (bottlenose dolphin) followed by Kogia breviceps (pygmy sperm whale). Most of the Kb strand live and so vital information is acquired prior to and after euthanization. Bottlenose dolphins tell us what is going on in the ocean (pollution/disease) so it is vital that the network continue to receive funding, use of a truck and ideally a boat.