A holiday turned rescue trip

It’s little wonder that Dr Alfonso Lopez, Chief Veterinarian at Dolphin Island, travels often.   In the past 18 months alone, he and his team of passionate veterinarians were called upon to provide assistance in several cases of animal rescues in the region.

Within a year, Dolphin Island has made a name for itself in the marine mammal veterinary community for its expertise in animal care.

In early April, Dr Alfonso was preparing for a family holiday when he received a call from Kerry Glover in Bali.  A trainer with Melka Hotel Bali, Kerry, needed advice on an injured spinner dolphin which had been caught by local fishermen as by-catch. The dolphin suffered minor wounds and appeared disoriented.  Kerry was also unsure if the dolphin had also suffered any internal injuries.

It wasn’t the first time that Kerry and Dr Alfonso had worked together on such cases.  Back in February 2014, Dr Alfonso had provided advice over the phone to Kerry on how to handle a case of another stranded dolphin.

Dr Alfonso immediately put his holiday plans on hold, and dedicated the next few hours to guiding Kerry to bring the dolphin back to the hotel to assess its condition.

Doctor Alfonso with dolphin
The spinner dolphin appeared to be disoriented as it was swimming on one side
when it first arrived at Melka Hotel Bali. (Photo Credit: Melka Hotel Bali).

Over the next two days, Dr Alfonso and his veterinarian team monitored the condition of the dolphin through numerous phone calls, emails and videos. Kudos to technology! It was a delicate process of recovery, with hydration being of critical importance, together with the administration of medication to prevent infection to the young spinner dolphin. The team at Melka Hotel Bali kept a round-the-clock watch, and to everyone’s relief, the dolphin began to show some signs of recovery. Kerry was also guided by Dr Alfonso to lightly massage the dolphin and it started to regain natural movement as well.

Dr Alfonso working with the Melka team to feed the spinner dolphin
before releasing it back to the ocean.

On the third day, Dr Alfonso flew to Bali and rushed to Melka Hotel Bali upon arrival. The dolphin had since made improvements and Dr Alfonso topped off the treatment by providing the dolphin with vitamins. Under the assessment and decision of the Melka team, the dolphin was to be released back into the ocean now that it had shown vast improvement.


“This rescue mission and the others that we help out in make what we do even more extraordinary. It is a privilege to be called upon by other marine mammal specialists to assist in their local efforts. As Dolphin Island continues to grow, the community will work closer to better care for these animals.” said Dr Alfonso.

The team transports the spinner dolphin off the shoreline for release.

Travelling some 3 kilometers from the shoreline to the point where spinner dolphins are normally seen, the team carefully lowered the spinner dolphin back into the water. As everyone observed with bated breath, the dolphin began to move its fins in slow motion and was soon heading back out into the open waters. As everyone bid this strong little fighter good bye, it was also time for the team to bid farewell to Dr Alfonso who caught up with the last bit of his vacation on the beaches of Bali.

— By Linette Lin


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