While millions of people were ordered to evacuate Florida as Hurricane Irma barreled toward the Sunshine State, one couple stayed to protect their dolphins.
Phillip Admire, director of zoology at Island Dolphin Care, and his wife Michelle Crosetto, a veterinarian, remained in Key Largo in the upper Florida Keys during the storm to care for their eight dolphins. The animals work with veterans and autistic children through the non-profit’s dolphin-assisted therapy programs.
Admire and his wife were afraid to leave the dolphins behind as Hurricane Irma created a dangerous situation for the marine mammals, such as water contamination, debris and the threat of pushing them out of their habitat.
Despite a mandatory evacuation, the couple thoroughly secured the area and have been hunkered down at Island Dolphin Care tending to the animals.
“The number one concern was that trees might fall down and tangle them in something, they could drown or be injured,” Admire told ABC News on Monday. “I knew after the hurricane, the Florida Keys were going to be shut down and [the dolphins] would go a week or more without any care. I wasn’t going to leave them.”
The bridge in Monroe County that leads to the facility has been closed due to the storm. Admire said if he and his wife had evacuated, they would not have been able to get back to their dolphins.
Admire said the dolphins’ lagoon is overflowing from Hurricane Irma’s rainfall and storm surge, but the mammals have stayed in their habitat. Now, his priority is to have someone repair the freezer which holds fish for the dolphins so they don’t run out of food.
“All eight [dolphins] are OK, which is amazing,” Admire told ABC News on Monday. “The water was over the fences and thank God they didn’t leave.”
(H/T ABC News)