As authorized by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, the DPMMR Protect Wild Dolphins Research and Conservation Program conducts monthly surveys of the Florida Keys dolphin population. Since 1980, the DPMMR team has served as the primary responders to marine mammal stranding events throughout the vital 10,000 square-mile region of marine habitat in the Keys.

Dolphin swimming in the water

Using marine mammals as “sentinels of ocean and human health,” the program’s primary goal is to characterize the health, behavior, biology, and ecology of these long-lived mammals in order to aid conservation and resource managers.

Another program goal is to keep an active surveillance of the wild dolphin population in order to identify anthropogenic stressors, including environmental contaminants and fishing gear entanglements, and to monitor for infectious diseases known to impact populations of small cetaceans, with implications for ocean and human health.

Rescuers on a boat looking for dolphins
Dolphins swimming in the ocean

The DPMMR Wild Dolphin Research Program uses an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to further research objectives within the unique long-term “natural laboratory” of Florida Bay, where hundreds of identifiable resident dolphins reside.   

Program efforts also include research and consultations throughout the southeastern U.S and other supports other marine mammal conservation programs around the world. The Program is also available to conduct follow-up monitoring of dolphins and whales that have returned to the wild following treatment at Mote Marine Laboratory, SeaWorld, and other rehabilitation hospitals to determine the success of the rehabilitation and release efforts.

Team members standing on the bow of a boat


Woman piloting the boat


Team members looking for dolphins in the ocean


Meet The Team

Stephen McCulloch
DPMMR Executive Director of Stranding Operations
Photo ID Principle Investigator

Arthur Cooper
Vice President Dolphins Plus, Inc.
Director of Operations
Photo ID Co-Investigator

Holli Eskelinen, Ph. D.
DPMMR Director of Research
RSMAS Part-Time Lecturer
Photo ID Researcher

Jill Richardson, Ph. D.
DPMMR Executive Director of Research
RSMAS Dept. of Marine Ecosystems & Society
Photo ID Researcher

Additional information and images available from DPMMR Photo-ID Newsletter.