The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation had a team ready to transport her via truck, early Wednesday morning, to the Shinnecock commercial dock in Hampton Bays, at the end of Dune Road.
Roxanne was loaded onto Stony Brook University’s vessel, Sea Wolf, at approximately 8:30 a.m. The vessel took her twenty miles offshore, accompanied by support boats.
Roxanne was also fitted with a satellite tracking device before leaving the Riverhead Foundation facility so her location can be tracked in the future.
Roxanne, in recent weeks, has continued to thrive, according to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
In June, the Foundation rescued the approximately 600 pound dolphin and transported her to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.
Named Roxanne, the Risso's Dolphin was nurtured until she was healthy and thriving, eating over 75 pounds of squid each day, and interacting with staff.
Recently, the Foundation's rescue team performed a physical exam on Roxanne, who gained 100 pounds since arriving at the Riverhead facility for rehabilitation.
She was reported to be still eating well and loved to play, according to staffers.
But donations were needed to help set Roxanne free into her natural habitat — and a caring community raised funds to help.
Funding was an issue, staffers at the Foundation explained, because the past winter was the largest cold-stunning season that the organization ever experienced, tapping out resources.
In order to be freed, Roxanne required a team of 18 animal care members, a crane, a transport truck and a vessel to carry her offshore. Foundation members said the efforts were pricey and required an infusion of funding.
To that end, a new method of fundraising was set up for Roxanne, through Razoo.com, a social fundraising site for non-profit organizations.
"It is our goal to raise as much as we can to support Roxanne and plan for her release in early September," Foundation staffers said in a release.
Donations came pouring in, especially after a segment on her plight was aired on national television. In just about 24 hours, Roxanne raised $4500 in donated funds to her Razoo page. An overall goal of $35,000 to cover all costs of transportation and satellite tagging was needed; the goal was met before a proposed timeline for release in early September.
"The growing support has been overwhelming and wonderful," Melissa Martin, public relations coordinator for the Foundation, said.
When she was first rescued in June, Roxanne was initially in "very guarded condition," according to Foundation members.
The dolphin was eating well, a good sign, but was also treated for gastric ulcers.
The dolphin, an adult female, weighed 603 lbs. when rescued on June 6 from a sand bar in the Great South Bay, and was a little over nine feet long. She initially ate 60 lbs. of squid per day and was expected to eventually eat around 80 lbs. of squid daily; the cost of squid just for one day is around $200, Julika Wocial, Rescue Program Supervisor, said.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation was alerted by the United States Coast Guard at Fire Island that a large dolphin was struggling on a sandbar just south of Oak Beach on Jones Beach Island in Babylon.
Rushing to the scene, Foundation members were transported to the site by United States Coast Guard Fire Island, where they were able to remove the dolphin from the sandbar and bring her on a stretcher to a nearby beach.
Next, the dolphin was brought by rescue vehicle to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, where she was cared for at the Foundation's marine mammal and sea turtle hospital.
“We are extremely grateful for the support shown and share the success of this rescue with the USCG Fire Island personnel as well as the community members of Oak Beach which assisted our efforts to render aid to this stricken animal," Kimberly Durham, Rescue Program Director, said.
The dolphin was closely monitored and treated for dehydration and well as gastric bleeding.
This dolphin was the second Risso’s recovered by the Riverhead Foundation’s rescue program this season. The previous Risso’s, an adult female, was initially reported alive but later found dead approximately 26 miles north of Manhattan.
A forensic examination revealed four intact plastic bags blocking her stomach, which led to her dying of starvation.
Risso’s dolphins are frequently found offshore along the steep shelf-edge habitats, between 400-1000 miles deep. They are characterized by a bulbous head and coloration which, although dark gray to brown when young, changes dramatically with age. As they mature they lighten and the majority of their skin is marked with linear white scars. Risso’s dolphin eat mostly squid.