In the late 1980's there was a massive die-off of coastal dolphins from New Jersey to Florida called a UME (Unusual Mortality Event). No one at that time had any data of the coastal dolphins in our area.
The Dolphin Project was founded in 1988 and incorporated in 1989 by Atlanta Journal Constitution journalist Beau Cutts to conduct Photo-ID dolphin research on the estuarine waters of Georgia and lower South Carolina. Renown scientists such as Charlie Potter of the Smithsonian Institution and Dr. Randall Wells of the Chicago Zoological Society and Mote Marine Labs were on the team that established the scientific protocols, training classes and survey zones. The Dolphin Project was formed and staffed by volunteers.
"The Dolphin Project serves as the eyes, ears and hands of the professionals..." stated Charlie Potter. He and other scientists were delighted to have trained volunteers perform the research. "They are citizen-naturalists who play an important role for pure science and wildlife management. These citizen-naturalists are helping to educate our next generation of scientists", Potter stated. "Agencies responsible for wildlife protection don't have funding to obtain the research information they need so these volunteers are crutial to completing critical data."
The start of The Dolphin Project is documented in an article by The Christian Science Monitor "Citizens Do Their Dolphin Duty - Volunteers help scientists count and catalog bottlenose dolphins off Georgia's Atlantic coast. " The full article can be read at : Citizens Do Their Dolphin Duty