Coast Guard visits Clearwater Marine Aquarium

John Curry, a veterinary technician at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, explains sea turtle handling to Coast Guard Station Sand Key crewmembers at the aquarium in Clearwater, Florida, Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Coast Guard crewmembers attended marine wildlife rescue training while at the aquarium and learned best practices when encountering sick or injured marine wildlife like dolphins, manatees and sea turtles. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

John Curry, a veterinary technician at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, explains sea turtle handling to Coast Guard Station Sand Key crewmembers at the aquarium in Clearwater, Florida.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

CLEARWATER, Fla.— Coast Guard crewmembers participated in marine wildlife rescue training Tuesday at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Eighteen crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Sand Key learned best practices when encountering sick or injured marine wildlife like dolphins, manatees and sea turtles.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium rescue biologists and veterinary technicians taught Sand Key crewmembers marine wildlife first responder basics. The training included how to stabilize a stranded dolphin, identifying abnormal manatee behavior and how to properly handle sea turtles. Proper first response care reduces stress to the animals until they can receive necessary veterinary assistance.

“Collaboration is key,” said Ana Nader, an associate rescue biologist at the aquarium, who led the training. “Animal wellbeing is a mutual concern and responsibility, so training like this is critical to ensuring an effective response in the field. The more trained eyes and hands, the better our response.”

Living Marine Resources is one of the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions, and units like Station Sand Key work closely with partner agencies to ensure the safety and protection of marine species.

“Due to the diverse missions of the Coast Guard, we never know who or what we might rescue,” said Chief Petty Officer Dale Veverka, the executive petty officer at Station Sand Key. “It was great learning from subject matter experts at the aquarium about techniques such as how to handle the marine wildlife that we might be called out to rescue.”

If you suspect a crime against Florida’s fish, wildlife or natural resources or see an injured animal, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s 24 hour hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). Or, if you find any sick or injured marine animals in the surrounding Clearwater area, contact Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s rescue hotline at 727-411-1790 ext. 1.

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