Rescued on June 6 from a Fire Island inlet sandbar, Roxanne, a 700-pound Risso’s dolphin, has been recovering in the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation's only rehabilitation tank.
After nearly three months in captivity, Roxanne is ready to be released back to the ocean, according to Melissa Martin, a spokeswoman for the Riverhead Foundation.
The U.S. Coast Guard initially found the 9-foot-long dolphin suffering from gastric bleeding and parasites, and called upon the foundation to transport her to the aquarium in Riverhead. Since being treated for ulcers, a condition that doesn't appear related to the infection that could be causing a die-off of bottlenose dolphins in the area, Roxanne has gained 100 pounds, ingesting 75 pounds of squid each day.
She will be released at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Shinnecock Commercial Dock at the end of Dune Road in Hampton Bays. Roxanne will then be loaded onto Stony Brook University’s vessel, Sea Wolf, and taken 20 miles offshore to be released.
The public may gather to cheer for Roxanne as she travels back to the sea at the end of Dune Road, overlooking the Shinnecock Inlet from the Hampton Bays side.
Part of Roxanne’s release was publicly funded. Through an online fundraising page and private donations, the Riverhead Foundation raised about $6,000 to help pay for an 18-member team to aid in the release, a crane, a transportation truck, a vessel and a satellite tracking device, which will be affixed to the dolphin before her release.
The total cost of Roxanne’s release is about $35,000, Martin said, and the foundation will continue to accept donations throughout the year.