Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
708 Tropical Cir
Sarasota FL 34242
Mission

Building on the foundation of the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population, the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program improves the lives of dolphins through:

  • Research on dolphins in the wild to better understand how they live, how they interact with their environment, and how they are affected by human activities.  
  • Translating scientific research into conservation action.
  • Sharing what we have learned, via public education and outreach, scientific publications and presentations, and training researchers and future conservation leaders around the world.

 

Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Dr. Randall S. Wells
Board Chair Dr. A. Blair Irvine
Board Chair Affiliation Dolphin Biology Research Institute
General Info
Organization DBA
DBA
Dolphin Biology Research Institute
Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
DBRI
Dolphin Biology Research Associates, Inc.
Supported Organization Dolphin Biology Research Institute
Former Names
Dolphin Biology Research Associates, Inc.
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 1982
Awarded competitive grant from Community Foundation in the last 5 years?
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes Apr 2016
State Registration Yes Jan 2016
IRS Letter of Determination
View
Financial Summary
 
 
Projected Revenue $941,352.00
Projected Expenses $941,352.00
Impact Statement

Major accomplishments during 2014:

  1. Investigations by NOAA of the potential impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have relied heavily on our collaborative dolphin health assessment research in Sarasota Bay, Louisiana, and Mississippi Sound.
  2. Results of research on metabolic syndrome in Sarasota Bay dolphins may provide critical clues on how to prevent and treat diabetes in humans.
  3. We provided training opportunities to 11 graduate students, and researchers and students from around the world. We shared our scientific findings and conservation messages in 2014 through 15 peer reviewed publications (3 more in press, 6 more in review), 20 scientific presentations, and 12 invited lectures.
  4. We continued development of a collaborative Gulf-of-Mexico-wide bottlenose dolphin identification system for tracking movements of dolphins through the Gulf, and are adding data from Mexico and Cuba.
  5. We participated in the rescue of one dolphin in the Everglades and led the rescue and removal of fishing line threatening the life of a dolphin calf near Marco Island.

Goals for 2015-16:

  1. Continue our long-term study of the behavior, health, and ecology of the resident dolphins of Sarasota Bay, and the natural and human activities that impact them.
  2. Disseminate our findings to the public, scientists, and wildlife management agencies through peer-reviewed publications, popular articles, main-stream media, social media, conferences, and lectures.
  3. Inform policy-making and facilitate conservation action through management-related research, and serving on government panels and in professional societies.
  4. Provide training opportunities for students and scientists from around the world, through our “natural laboratory” in Sarasota Bay.
  5. Rescue dolphins suffering from human interactions such as line entanglements, and perform follow-up monitoring.

 

Needs Statement
  1. Replacement of aging field equipment, including camera systems, which are crucial to ongoing research. Each Nikon digital camera system costs $1,900; 3 are needed.
  2. Support for ecological studies of dolphin prey fish in Sarasota: $50,000/yr for staff time and boat operations.
  3. Support for a graduate student to study dolphin health or ecology. One year of part-time stipend and fees for a graduate student through the University of Florida costs about $40,000.
  4. Support to continue the Gulf-wide dolphin identification system: $50,000 per year.
  5. Replacement outboard engine: $10,000 (with trade-in).
Background Statement

The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP), the world’s longest-running study of a dolphin population, is a collaborative program of partners dedicated to the continuity of long-term dolphin research in Sarasota Bay. The program began with a pilot dolphin tagging study through Mote Marine Laboratory during 1970-72, and since 1992 Mote has provided a convenient base on City Island in Sarasota Bay, with office, storage and dock space, and access to boat launching ramps.  Dolphin Biology Research Institute, a Sarasota-based 501{c}3 non-profit corporation established in 1982, provides logistical support with four small research vessels, two towing vehicles, computers, cameras, field equipment, etc.  Most of the SDRP day-to-day operations, including employment of program staff, have been administered by the Chicago Zoological Society since 1989.   The SDRP maintains academic connections through the U. of Florida, U. of North Carolina at Wilmington, Duke U., and U. of California at Santa Cruz.

Our desire with each research or conservation project is to contribute to a better understanding of the structure and dynamics of populations of cetaceans, as well as the natural and human factors that impact them.  We use an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach in conducting studies of bottlenose dolphins within a unique long-term natural laboratory.  The primary goals of our program include:
  1. collecting biological, behavioral, ecological, and health data of importance to the conservation of small cetaceans, especially bottlenose dolphins,
  2. providing requisite information for bottlenose dolphin conservation to wildlife management agencies,
  3. disseminating the information generated by our program to scientific and general audiences in order to aid dolphin conservation efforts,
  4. using our model program to develop and refine hypotheses regarding bottlenose dolphins in other parts of the species' range as well as other species of small cetaceans,
  5. using the established natural laboratory to develop and test new research tools and methodologies of potential benefit to conservation efforts,
  6. training cetacean conservation workers and students from around the world in the use of these techniques,
  7. applying our unique expertise to dolphin rescue operations and post-release follow-up monitoring, and
  8. applying the information we gather from free-ranging dolphins to improve the quality of care for dolphins in zoological park settings.


Areas Served
Areas Served
Area
FL
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Animal Related
Secondary Org Type Animal Related
Tertiary Org Type Environment
Keywords
dolphin, rescue, conservation, estuarine ecology, marine mammal
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President

Statement from the CEO/Executive Director
The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program builds on the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population. Over the past four decades this program has become much more than a long-term research initiative. We provide unique education and training opportunities to students and colleagues from around the world. We also provide guidance and assistance to help establish dolphin conservation research programs in other countries. Our dedicated staff members make themselves available around the clock to rescue dolphins that have suffered from human interactions such as entanglement in fishing gear, or in the notable case of “Scrappy,” a misplaced Speedo bathing suit.  The partner organizations who combine efforts to operate the SDRP (Dolphin Biology Research Institute, Chicago Zoological Society, Mote Marine Laboratory), along with colleagues from around the world, remain involved because of the long-term “natural laboratory” situation in Sarasota Bay, and because of the scientific reputation of the program, built on decades of high quality research and unparalleled long-term datasets. These datasets, developed through continuous collection of data over many years, are being recognized internationally for their unique relevance to emerging environmental issues such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and climate disruption, where long time series of high-resolution, consistently-collected data are necessary for detecting trends and effects. 
 

The SDRP’s reputation results from more than its scientific papers and datasets. The heart and soul of the program are the people that work with the SDRP – the dedicated staff and students, long-term partnerships, and collaborators from around the world that produce the science, training opportunities, and conservation action. To maintain the consistency and continuity of program efforts, there must be a level of financial stability.


The program requires a significant ongoing commitment of support. The program relies primarily on research grants and contracts, and philanthropy, to survive. The Chicago Zoological Society has been key to SDRP’s success since 1989, by employing the program staff, administering the business aspects of the program, and providing support for some of its ongoing operations. However, the expectation of CZS is that the SDRP obtain as much of its support as possible from external sources. 

Programs
Description

Monitoring dolphins and human activities that impact them – The resident community of bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay is arguably the best-known dolphin population in the world. It has been studied since 1970. The community currently includes about 160 individuals, most of them readily identifiable as individuals, spanning up to five generations, and including dolphins as old as 63 years of age. Observing these animals through time gives details of their lives not previously available for dolphins, and provides opportunities to closely monitor survival, reproductive success, and exposure and responses to human activities. Every month, 10 days of photographic identification surveys are conducted from small boats through the range of the resident dolphins to check up on them, and document their ranges, activities, and social patterns. This is the most basic component of our overall research program, and serves all other components.

Budget $325,000
Category Animal-Related, General/Other Marine Animals Preservation & Protection
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served General/Unspecified US& International
Short Term Success

Our regular, long-term monitoring provides a surveillance program that allows us to detect changes in the resident dolphin population, and focus research efforts on possible causes for the changes, or work to implement mitigation efforts. “Eyes on the water” allow us to locate dolphins in trouble, for example from entanglement in fishing line, and implement rescue efforts before the dolphins die or strand. Current knowledge of the status of dolphins in Sarasota Bay, for example, the occurrence of a large number of newborn dolphins prior to a boat race, can lead to the development of media notifications that can increase public awareness and caution. In the short- and long-term, up-to-date information on each of the identifiable resident dolphins supports research that is unique to the Sarasota Bay“natural laboratory” situation – no other wild dolphin population in the world is as thoroughly documented as the Sarasota community.

Long Term Success

Long-term monitoring of the resident Sarasota dolphin community allows us to keep track of the status of the individuals, the population, and some of the factors that influence their survival and well-being. These surveys, in conjunction with other research efforts, help us to understand the occurrence and relative contributions of natural (for example, sharks, stingrays, disease, red tides) and human-related (pollution, recreational fishing gear entanglement and ingestion, crab traps, boat disturbance and strikes, coastal construction, human feeding of dolphins) threats to wild dolphin survival and condition.  Our ultimate goal is to apply this information to reduce human-related threats to dolphins while allowing humans to continue to obtain their livelihood or recreate in the waters they share, and to be able to transfer this knowledge to similar situations in other places.

Program Success Monitoring

The regular monitoring surveys provide the information for assessment, through documentation of the presence, absence, and condition of the dolphins, and occurrence of human activities of concern. The dolphin surveys have been conducted with consistent effort and methodology for more than 20 years. As a result, baselines are well-established, and deviations that could trigger closer investigation are readily detectable. We have been able to engage in timely efforts to rescue entangled dolphins, providing aid before the dolphins died or stranded.

Program Success Examples

The SDRP is engaged in “the world’s longest-running study of a dolphin population.” The level of knowledge we have acquired and maintain for the resident Sarasota Bay dolphins is unparalleled, and attracts scientists and students from around theworld for research collaborations or training. Our research has helped NOAA, the federal agency charged with protecting dolphins, to better understand and consider human threats beyond just commercial fisheries, as they develop management plans. We have provided a unique opportunity to understand cumulative impacts of multiple natural and human-induced threats,rather than the more traditional management approach of examining one threat to animal populations at a time. Our efforts have helped NOAA to better apportion precious resources between outreach and law enforcement. By informing media of emerging threats from human activities, impacts have been reduced. Surveys have found entangled dolphins, leading to rescue efforts (3 in 2011).

Description

The resident dolphin population of Sarasota Bay serves as a reference population for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for comparisons with other populations potentially impacted by environmental threats such as oil spills, other toxic pollutants, or harmful algal blooms. A team of more than 60 scientists and veterinarians, working under a NOAA permit, briefly captures small groups of dolphins and performs standard medical examinations and sampling onboard a specially-equipped veterinary exam boat to evaluate each animal’s health.  Then each animal is released. Differences between specific health indicators for dolphins at potentially impacted sites as compared to the range of values established for Sarasota dolphins from long-term monitoring point to health concerns and possible causes. In addition, the health assessments provide opportunities for studies of life history, communication, and tests of new technology, such as radio tag designs.

 

Budget $189,000
Category Animal-Related, General/Other Wild Animals Preservation & Protection
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served General/Unspecified US& International
Short Term Success

In the near-term, continuation of our health assessment program will allow us to continue to compile background information on each of the resident dolphins,improving our ability to interpret their health and behavior. Ongoing monitoring is also required to detect emerging health threats, and to refine our baseline data to improve detectability and accuracy. Currently, health assessment data from Sarasota Bay dolphins is being used by NOAA for comparison with heath data from Barataria Bay, Louisiana, a bay that was heavily impacted by Deepwater Horizon oil. Health differences between the bays are being investigated relative to potential oil spill impacts.

 

Long Term Success

Our health monitoring program for Sarasota Bay resident dolphins provides us with a surveillance mechanism for emerging threats or conditions, including ones that may impact humans. The long-term resident dolphins of Sarasota Bay,who breathe the same air, swim through the same waters, and eat the same fish as people in coastal Sarasota, serve as sentinels for environmental health threats. Continuing research allows us to refine health assessments to more quickly and accurately detect health or body condition problems, and to focus research to investigate their causes.  NOAA recognizes the Sarasota Bay dolphin community as its standard reference site for comparisons with other sites that have been impacted through unusual mortality events, from pollution, harmful algal blooms, or unknown causes. Continuing refinements to the health assessment process will increase its utility and benefit dolphin populations in Sarasota and elsewhere.

Program Success Monitoring

The program’s success will continue to be assessed based on its continuing relevance to NOAA for broader comparisons, the interest level of research collaborators from around the world, and the successful publication and presentation of findings in scientific journals and at conferences. The success will also be assessed by means of continuation of its excellent record of safety for dolphins and people, while providing crucial data of value to research and conservation.

Program Success Examples

Since 1984, we have sampled and examined 232 individual dolphins in Sarasota Bay and surrounding waters, some of them up to 15 times each. The wealth of information from these efforts is unparalleled, and draws collaborating researchers and students from around the world. Each dolphin examined during a health assessment session supports more than 30 individual research projects, involving topics such as health, genetics and paternity, pollution effects, life history, diving physiology, tag design, red tide impacts, hearing abilities, and communication. NOAA has modeled its own health assessments on the Sarasota Bay program, and has used Sarasota as a reference population for comparisons with sites impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (Barataria Bay, LA), persistent toxic environmental contaminants (Brunswick, GA), and biotoxins from harmful algal blooms (St. Joseph Bay, FL) to try to determine how dolphin health has been affected at those impacted sites. 

Description

Increasing numbers of dolphins are becoming entangled in fishing line throughout the southeast U.S. Entanglement cases are found during our regular surveys, or we are notified by NOAA Fisheries Service. Unless these animals are rescued and disentangled, the dolphins will likely die from lines and terminal tackle becoming embedded in or cutting deeply into their tissues. The SDRP maintains a largely unfunded capacity for quickly responding to entanglements. SDRP can: 1) deploy a team on a single boat with specialized tools to attempt to remove gear without capture, or 2) deploy an experienced team to capture, disentangle,and release the animal on site, and then monitor it post-release to assess the success of the case. Alternatively, if recommended by attending veterinarians, SDRP can transport the animal to Mote Marine Laboratory's dolphin hospital for more intensive treatment.

Budget $50,000
Category Animal-Related, General/Other Marine Animals Preservation & Protection
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served General/Unspecified US& International
Short Term Success

Our short-term achievements will involve saving individual dolphins from untimely death, and relieving their suffering, from human activities.

 

Long Term Success

Ultimately, we hope that the need for rescues will diminish as people become more aware of the damage humans can do to dolphins, especially with recreational fishing gear. We have worked with NOAA and others to develop outreach materials and efforts to increase awareness about the threats posed by fishing gear, boats, and human feeding of wild dolphins. These efforts include distribution of more than 230,000 “Dolphin-Friendly Fishing & Viewing Tips” cards since 2008, development and distribution of a public service announcement video and associated website(dontfeedwilddolphins.org), participation in numerous media interviews, town hall meetings, classroom visits, and lectures, and peer-reviewed publications based on our studies of effects of human interactions (the publications have been used by NOAA as support for developing their current management strategies).

Program Success Monitoring

Success will be measured by the number of successful rescues we perform relative to the number of known cases that would benefit from intervention, and are within our capacity for response.

Program Success Examples

During 2010-2012, we have engaged in disentangling five bottlenose dolphins. Four of these have been seen post-release, and they are doing well. Two other dolphins we disentangled in 2006 and 2007 are still seen regularly in Sarasota Bay, in good condition.

Description

Understanding the lives of cetaceans requires understanding them within their ecological context - relative to their prey, predators, and other environmental factors that can impact their survival and well-being, such as red tides, fishing activity, and boat traffic. Changes in prey availability can impact dolphin health, body condition, behavior, and susceptibility to human activities such as fishing. To this end,we monitor the distribution, abundance, and energy content of dolphin prey fish in Sarasota Bay. Seasonally, a standardized purse-seine is used to capture, identify, measure, and release fish through the dolphins’ home range. In addition to providing crucial perspective for interpreting dolphin behavior, habitat use and body condition, this effort provided the first quantitative assessment of the impacts of a severe red tide on an estuarine fish community, and subsequent recovery.  In addition, we are examining scar patterns to understand shark predation risk.

Budget $150,000
Category Animal-Related, General/Other Fishery Conservation & Management
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served General/Unspecified US& International
Short Term Success

Short-term success involves maintaining the consistency and continuity of the fish database for Sarasota Bay. Holes in the dataset from missed sampling seasons would severely hamper our ability to interpret what is happening with fish and dolphin populations in Sarasota Bay. Collection of additional fish data improves definition of our baselines, and our ability to detect deviations from the baseline condition, which would trigger more detailed investigations.

 

Long Term Success

The ability to be able to scientifically model responses of dolphin populations to environmental changes would be very important to providing appropriate management and minimizing impacts from human activities. The ultimate goal of the fish monitoring program is to relate prey availability to potentially predictable changes in dolphin behavior, survival, and condition. Being able to predict how dolphins will respond to environmental changes facilitates management planning. Secondarily, we want to develop a better understanding of the dynamics of the fish community of Sarasota Bay, to learn how the species diversity, numbers, and condition of fish change under different environmental scenarios, with important implications for those who make their livelihood from local fish populations, and for anglers.

Program Success Monitoring

The current level of fish sampling effort has been established because it meets minimum requirements for statistical comparisons among seasons. With our current system of fish monitoring, we can be confident that we are sampling at an appropriate level to develop an index of fish availability that accurately reflects what is actually happening in the bay. It is essential to maintain this minimum level of sampling, to allow future comparisons and assessments.

Program Success Examples

Since 2004, our fish monitoring program has made more than 1,000 purse-seine sets and caught, measured, and released more than 500,000 fish in Sarasota Bay. Our seasonal fish sampling was the first to quantitatively document changes to estuarine fish communities during a severe red tide, including dramatic declines in many species, and the recovery of fish stocks in the years following the red tide. In the first “natural experiment” of its kind, changes in fish abundance and condition from a severe red tide appeared to at least partially explain changes in dolphin abundance, condition, survival, and rates of interactions with anglers. Declines in prey fish availability were accompanied by increases in dolphin interactions with anglers, and increased mortality from ingesting fishing gear. Further observations during red tides are necessary before the hypothesized relationship between prey fish availability and dolphin responses can be tested.

Description

We share our information with the public, scientists, and wildlife management agencies through peer-reviewed publications, popular articles, main-stream media, social media, conferences and lectures. In addition, we provide training opportunities to visiting scientists, graduate students, and undergraduate interns in order to build conservation capacity around the world. We do this because we recognize the importance of effective dissemination of research findings to the places where they can make the most difference, in Florida, the U.S., and around the world. Many of our program’s previous trainees have gone on to be today’s conservation leaders, and they will leverage additional conservation work around the world. SDRP scientists also participate as members of government advisory panels and in professional societies to inform management and help guide conservation decisions.

Budget $125,000
Category Animal-Related, General/Other Marine Animals Preservation & Protection
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served General/Unspecified US& International
Short Term Success

In the short-term, we struggle to maintain our education, training, and conservation capacity building efforts. We are able to offer training opportunities to 10-15 graduate students, up to 25 undergraduate interns, and 3-10 foreign scientists each year, but in many cases, high-quality applicants are ultimately unable to participate because of financial limitations. We would realize greater short-term and long-term success if more financial support were available for these applicants. We have established a high level of scientific productivity (publications and presentations) and hope to maintain this level over time. SDRP scientists will continue to serve on a number of government wildlife management advisory panels and professional society boards.

Long Term Success

Ultimately, we would like to enhance dolphin conservation capacity worldwide, leveraging conservation work from a network of scientists and students who have been trained through the SDRP, and building on the findings of SDRP research and/or using research tools developed or tested in conjunction with the SDRP. Locally, we would like for our education and outreach programs to have been so successful that there is no longer any need for them for reducing adverse human-dolphin interactions.

Program Success Monitoring

The numbers of active participants and applicants we have for international traineeships, graduate student research programs, and undergraduate intern positions provide measures of our training and capacity building success. Another measure of our scientists’ relevancy, although it is outside of our control, is our invited involvement on government wildlife management advisory panels. Our scientific productivity is measured through annual numbers of peer-reviewed publications and presentations. Outreach effectiveness is measured case-by-case, as appropriate.

Program Success Examples

Over the years, 28 doctoral dissertation and 31 master’s thesis projects have benefited from association with the SDRP, through field research opportunities or access to data, samples, or guidance. A number of these former students are now employed in influential positions for conservation. In 2011, we shared our scientific findings and conservation messages through 11 published peer-reviewed journal articles (with 16 more in press, or in review), 25 presentations at professional meetings, and 8 invited lectures. SDRP scientists served as President of the international Society for Marine Mammalogy, Chair of NOAA’s Pacific Scientific Review Group, member and past-Chair of NOAA’s Atlantic Scientific Review Group, Chair of NOAA’s Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events, and as members of NOAA’s Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Team. SDRP scientists engaged in conservation research in Brazil and consultations in Cambodia involving endangered dolphin populations.

Comments
Program Comments by Organization

Program Success Examples:

The SDRP operates “the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population.” The knowledge we have acquired for the Sarasota Bay dolphins is unparalleled, and attracts scientists and students from around the world for research collaborations or training. We have provided a unique opportunity to understand cumulative impacts of multiple natural and human-induced threats, rather than the more traditional management approach of examining one threat to animal populations at a time. We have helped NOAA to better apportion resources between outreach and law enforcement. By informing media of emerging threats from human activities, impacts have been reduced. Since 2010, we have disentangled 8 dolphins, and relocated one trapped in the Everglades. NOAA has modeled their health assessments on ours, and uses Sarasota as a reference population for comparisons with sites impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, pollutants, and red tides. Our fish monitoring program was the first to quantitatively document changes to estuarine fish communities during a severe red tide, and the recovery of fish stocks in subsequent years. Changes in prey fish abundance and condition from the red tide at least partially explained changes in dolphin abundance, condition, survival, and rates of interactions with anglers. Over the years, 32 doctoral dissertation and 31 master’s thesis projects have benefited from association with the SDRP. A number of these former students are now employed in influential positions for conservation. We have shared our scientific findings and conservation messages through nearly 200 peer reviewed publications, and hundreds of scientific presentations and invited lectures. SDRP staff serve on many national and international panels and boards. SDRP scientists have engaged in conservation research in Brazil, Argentina, Belize, Canada, and Bermuda, and consultations on threatened and endangered dolphin populations around the world.

 


Program Comments by Foundation
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Dr. Randall S. Wells
CEO Term Start Jan 1977
CEO/Executive Director Email rwells@mote.org
Experience

 

Randall Wells directs the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population. He began studying bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay as a high school volunteer at Mote Marine Laboratory in 1970. He received a PhD in Biology from the U. of California, Santa Cruz in 1986 and was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has worked for the Chicago Zoological Society since 1989, and has managed Mote Marine Laboratory’s Dolphin Research Program since 1991. Wells is adjunct Professor of Marine Mammal Science at the U. of Florida, where he advises graduate students.

Wells’ current research examines the behavior, social structure, life history, ecology, health, and population biology of bottlenose dolphins along central west Florida, focusing on five generations of a resident dolphin community. Recent research includes the effects of human activities on coastal dolphins. Wells has served as a principal investigator for more than 150 funded marine mammal research projects. Wells has studied the behavior of Franciscana and Hawaiian spinner dolphins, blue, gray, and humpback whales, the effects of industrial activities on bowhead whales, the impacts of boats on manatees, and the release of captive and rehabilitated dolphins back into their native waters.

Wells is author or co-author of 4 books, 194 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, 87 technical reports, and 13 popular or semi-popular pieces (1972-2014), and presenter or co-author of 333 conference presentations, and 208 public or university lectures (1977-2014). Wells currently serves as a member of the Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals for the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. Wells is past-President of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. Wells also serves on NOAA’s Atlantic Scientific Review Group, and he is past-chair of the NOAA’s Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events. Wells serves on IUCN’s Cetacean Specialist Group.


Former CEOs/Executive Directors
NameTerm
Senior Staff
NameTitle
Jason Allen Lab Manager
Aaron Barleycorn Field Research Coordinator
Sunnie Brenneman Research Assistant
Carolyn Cush
Allison Honaker Research Assistant
Kim Bassos Hull Research Associate
Shauna McBride Research Assistant
Elizabeth Berens McCabe Research Associate
Dr. Katherine McHugh Post-doctoral Scientist
Reny Tyson Post-doctoral Scientist
Dr. Randall S. Wells Director
Krystan Wilkinson Graduate Research Assistant
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 8
Part Time Staff 3
Staff Retention Rate % 87.5
Professional Development Yes
Contractors 0
Volunteers 100
Management Reports to Board N/A
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Collaborations
The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP) is a collaborative program of partners dedicated to the continuity of long-term dolphin research and conservation in Sarasota Bay. The program began through Mote Marine Laboratory during 1970-72, and since 1992 Mote has provided a convenient base on City Island in Sarasota Bay, with office, storage and dock space, and access to boat launching ramps. Dolphin Biology Research Institute, a Sarasota-based 501{c}3 non-profit corporation established in 1982, provides logistical support with five small research vessels, two towing vehicles, computers, cameras, field equipment, etc. Most of the SDRP day-to-day operations, including employment of program staff, have been administered by the Chicago Zoological Society since 1989.  The SDRP maintains academic connections through the U. of Florida, U. of North Carolina at Wilmington, Duke U., and U. of California at Santa Cruz. The SDRP works closely with NOAA Fisheries,the federal agency responsible for protecting dolphins. We are currently engaged in collaborative projects with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Sea Mammal Research Unit of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, the National Marine Mammal Program, and NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Branch in Charleston, SC. 
Affiliations
AffiliationYear
External Assessments and Accreditations
Assessment/AccreditationYear
Awards & Recognition
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government Yes
Plans
Fundraising Plan No
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years
Strategic Plan Adopted 0
Management Succession Plan No
Policies and Procedures No
Continuity of Operations Plan Yes
Policies
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Comments
Management Comments by Organization
Management Comments by Foundation
Board Chair
Board Chair Dr. A. Blair Irvine
Company Affiliation Dolphin Biology Research Institute
Board Term Jan 2012 to Dec 2016
Board Chair Email blairvine11@gmail.com
Board Members
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Dr. A. Blair Irvine Dolphin Biology Research Institute
Dr. Michael D. Scott Dolphin Biology Research Institute
Dr. Randall S. Wells Dolphin Biology Research Institute
Student serving on the board through Community Youth Development? No
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 3
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 0
Unspecified 0
Governance
Board Term Lengths 99
Board Term Limits 0
Board Orientation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 1
Board Meeting Attendance % 100
Board Self-Evaluation Yes
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Standing Committees
Comments
Governance Comments by Organization
Governance Comments by Foundation
Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Begins 2015
Fiscal Year Ends 2015
Projected Revenue $941,352.00
Projected Expenses $941,352.00
Endowment Value
Endowment Spending Policy
Endowment Spending Policy %
Capital Campaign
In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Campaign Dates 0 to 0
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years?
Audit/Financial Documents
Historical Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$119,726$145,655$130,048
Administration Expense$12,968$13,505$9,210
Fundraising Expense$2,809$1,316$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.411.291.20
Program Expense/Total Expenses88%91%93%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue4%2%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$196,651$141,214$94,311
Current Assets$99,043$73,401$79,294
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$196,651$141,214$94,311
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201420132012
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountProgram Service Revenue $107,094Research $125,991Program service revenue $128,229
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $73,046Contributions, gifts, grants $78,288Contributions, gifts, grants $39,262
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount0 $0Net gain from sale of assets other than inventory $3,1000 $0
CEO/Executive Director Compensation $100,001 - $125,000
Co-CEO/Executive Director Compensation
Tax Credits
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization

 

Highly respected, internationally renowned long-term research and conservation programs are rare, due primarily to the level of commitment required to maintain them. The information and opportunities they provide are unique, and of crucial importance as we study animals whose lives can span more than 6 decades, and who are facing impacts that operate on scales of years or decades. Continuity and consistency are paramount concerns for ensuring that the data and resources from long-term programs are of the greatest value to science and society. Maintaining appropriate levels of field research effort and retention of experienced staff are key to the long-term viability and success of such programs.

The SDRP faces ongoing challenges in maintaining consistency and continuity. As a soft-money program, forced to sustain its operations through competitive research grants and contracts and philanthropy, there is pressure to find nearly $1,000,000 each year to keep things running. This expectation comes at a time when economic conditions are less conducive to philanthropy and government support for research is retracting. The budget for which we are trying to find support is:

ITEM

AMOUNT

Salaries

443,251

Fringe Benefits

126,819

Contracts

150,743

Insurance

43,000

Equipment

10,000

Telephone/Postage/Shipping

2,500

Misc. Research Expenses

93,200

Taxes, Licenses, Fees

625

Bank Fees

200

Equipment Repairs

10,550

Local Meeting Expenses

500

Office Supplies/Uniforms

2,600

Travel

55,064

Printing and Publication

2,300


941,352


Financial Comments by Foundation Financial information is provided based on IRS Form 990 EZs. Foundations and corporations are included with individual contributions as they are not separated in the 990.
Nonprofit Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
Address 708 Tropical Cir
Sarasota, FL 34242
Primary Phone 941 349-3259

THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF SARASOTA COUNTY, INC. IS A REGISTERED 501(C)(3) NON-PROFIT CORPORATION. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE (1-800-HELP-FLA) OR FROM THE WEBSITE: WWW.FRESHFROMFLORIDA.COM. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT (100%) OF EACH CONTRIBUTION IS RECEIVED BY THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF SARASOTA COUNTY. REGISTRATION #SC-02471.