Roxanne, a Risso's dolphin, was set free on Wednesday.
"She traveled safely offshore aboard the vessel Sea Wolf with a fantastic team of supporters," the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation said in a statement.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who contributed to our fundraising efforts for Roxanne and donated to her cause," the statement continued. "We would also like to personally thank the personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Fire Island, for their help with both the rescue and release."
The Foundation also thanked Lou Giancontiere, his daughter Jessica, and his staff, with L.F.G Rigging, for the donation of personnel and the crane truck and flat bed used to transport Roxanne to the release vessel; the staff of the R/V SeaWolf, from Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences for their assistance with the release; and the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center for their support during Roxanne’s release, and their staff who helped fix the release crate.
Also commended for helping were Riverhead Town police and Southampton Town police for help with the vehicle transport of Roxanne to the release site; the Shinnecock commercial fishing dock operators and commercial fisherman for allowing access to the dock to load Roxanne onto the Sea Wolf; Allcon Contracting, who helped re-build Roxanne’s transport crate; volunteers, who helped care for Roxanne, and Rob Mellman, a new volunteer who donated time and assisted with services to prepare for Roxanne’s release.
Moving forward, the public can track Roxanne on her adventures by clicking here. Her link will be live soon.
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.
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.