When three Bradenton residents strolled Longboat Key for sea turtle nesting patrol last week, they never thought they'd be on duty for a beached dolphin.
"We're used to saving turtle nests but not live dolphins," Melissa Herron said.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of Sara Heuer and Mike and Melissa Herron, scientists and staff are helping nicknamed Edna that needs funding to help pay for her bills.
Monday afternoon the three gathered at Mote with staff to check in on Edna who remains in critical condition, being treated for sever pneumonia and other medical issues affecting her organs.
It all started June 6 during the trio's daily Mote Sea Turtle Patrol along Longboat Key in Manatee County checking on sea turtle nesting areas, making sure the stakes are in place marking the nest, fixing whatever damage was done to the waves and mother nature, said Mike Herron.
Mike decided to jog past Whitney Beach toward Beachwalk where Melissa and Heuer would meeting him, and on his way Mike found Edna pointing toward the Gulf of Mexico, beached, about five to 10 feet from the tides.
"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, there's a dolphin laying there,'" Mike said.
The group called Mote right away for assistance.
"We just went into save mode," Melissa said.
While Mote staff made the 30-minute drive to the scene, Heuer put her training into practice. Heuer has volunteered with Mote since April and just completed an animal training class where skills she learned played an important role in keeping Edna hydrated and stable.
About a week later, Edna appears to be doing better, being able to swim on her own at times and is eating fish, but Heuer remains guarded.
"I know not to keep my hopes up because you never know what could happen," she said. "It's a good sign she's up and swimming on her own."
The laboratory is sending blood samples for various tests to diagnose Edna's ailments further, Mote spokeswoman Hayle Rutger said.
Funding is needed for the Mote Dolphin and Whale Hospital and Edna's care, Rutger said.
Donations can be made by visiting www.mote.org/hospitalhelp or by calling 941-388-4441, ext. 309.