Story by MCC Rosalie Chang, Naval Construction Battalion Center
GULFPORT, Miss. – Seabees assigned to Naval Construction Group (NCG) 2 assisted the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program transport three of their trained bottlenose dolphins, Apr. 30.
“A request came in for logistical support of two trucks and drivers to help relocate three dolphins and we volunteered right off the bat to assist with the necessary equipment and personnel,” said NCG 2 Transportation Supervisor, Equipment Operator 1st Class Alexander Quesnel. Navy program handlers and veterinary personnel transported the dolphins from the Navy’s facility at the Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center Pacific in San Diego to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. The Seabees then transferred the dolphins to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport, Miss. “In addition to training animals, we also collaborate with other institutions to enhance the understanding of marine mammals and to propagate marine mammal science,” said U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program Transport Coordinator, Christian Harris. “We are partnering with IMMS to share some of our animals on an extended loan; we’re transporting those animals from our base through Keesler with the support of the Seabees to get them safely configured in their new home.”
IMMS is a research and rehabilitation facility that provides care to stranded animals. The Navy dolphins will be loaned to IMMS for extended breeding and studies to further marine mammal science. They were involved in a variety of capability demonstrations and bioacoustics research projects for the Navy. Harris stated the collaboration between the marine mammal program, IMMS and the Seabees in nothing new, but it is very special. “This is not our first evolution with the Seabees,” said Harris. “They are the group we always reach out to for this type of support wherever they are available because they bring so much expertise, skill and passion to the job and they make our job that much easier.” For the Seabees who participated in this evolution, this was a once in a lifetime experience. “I am more than excited for my troops to be able to participate,” said Quesnel. “I’ve been in the Navy 14 years and this is the first time I’ve experienced anything close to this so it’s great for my troops to be involved in this operation.”
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