Gulf World Marine Institute Inc. (GWMI), was established as a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 2012. GWMI was established to assist Gulf World Marine Park (GWMP) with the duties and responsibilities of the longtime successful stranding program operated by Gulf World. Gulf World has participated in stranding work since 1970 and is considered one the leading rehabilitation facilities in the National Marine Fisheries Service stranding network.
Gulf World Marine Park, Inc. maintains for profit public display activities independent of those of Gulf World Marine Institute, Inc. The Institute’s activities will continue to further develop the humanitarian, cultural, educational, and research programs related to local and national government agencies, and acquire authorizations to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Department, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, among others. This organizational structure is an established marine conservation and research business model employed by other nonprofit collaborations like the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute. Our similar mission is to respond to sick, injured or stranded animals, rehabilitate and release into the wild and to serve as an educational resource to schools throughout our area; and to help facilitate and disseminate our knowledge and empirical and scientific data to an extensive list of approved research projects and institutions.
All history, data and records have been transferred to Gulf World Marine Institute (“GWMI”) and much of the expertise will be carried on by staff members that will continue to work with and for the Institute. They include Ron Hardy, GWMI Board President, with over 25 years of working with strandings and participating in stranding workshops. Secret Holmes, GWMI , Animal Curator with over 20 years of stranding experience and was past director of Gulf World Marine Parks stranding program. Dr. Lydia Staggs, GWMI facility veterinarian, was veterinarian for Gulf World Marine Parks stranding program. Historically, one of the founding fathers of veterinarian medicine for stranded marine mammals is Dr. Forrest Townsend and he is on the GWMI Board of Directors. There will be many individual staff members and volunteers working with GWMI that bring years of stranding experience with them. The amount of expertise amongst its Board of Directors and Staff is enormous.
GWMI is a leader in marine animal medical technology. The Veterinary staff at Gulf World and GWMI are some of the better equipped and trained in the US for rehabilitating and maintaining the health of marine animals. Medical technology advancements for marine animal health can be transferred to human health. State-of-the-art equipment and qualified staff allow us to perform procedures that others can not. Through our networking with other medical staff and researchers, we will become well known and sought out for these innovations by Universities and Research Facilities from throughout the United States, to improve upon and develop new diagnostic and medical procedures. Just recently, working with Auburn University, the first diagnostic test ever for Mucormycosis – a highly contagious pathogen, resulting in 99% mortality rate for Dolphins in the wild as well as in human care. Another innovation in 2014 was GWMI secured a State-of-the-Art 25 watt CO2 surgical laser, the first one in the country to be used with animals. With this new equipment and technology GWMI is now able to remove fibropapilloma growths from sea turtles, a virus related disease, which can be very debilitating and potentially fatal. Just recently our medical staff successfully birthed an artificially inseminated dolphin at our facility.