Letters to the Editor

Molly the dolphin, who’s passed, lived a full life

Molly had lived many places and mentored younger dolphins.
Molly had lived many places and mentored younger dolphins. Dolphin Research Center

​It is with great sorrow the Dolphin Research Center shares the news of the passing of Molly late in the evening of Sept. 23. One of the oldest dolphins living in human care, she was believed to be at least 56 years old and had lived at the Dolphin Research Center since 1996.

A definitive cause of death is not known at this time. A necropsy was performed that may or may not reveal a cause. To live longer than 50 years means that she was very old for a bottlenose dolphin. In recent years, she experienced some health issues commensurate with her advanced age and received the finest medical care. She enjoyed a vital quality of life to the end.

Molly was well known to dolphin lovers not only in the Florida Keys, but also around the world. She was an icon with a long, interesting history and a life of many adventures. Over the years, she also lived at several other facilities, including Theater of the Sea, the Ocean Reef Club and, just prior to the Dolphin Research Center, the ill-fated Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary.

Among some of the interesting stories told from her past is one where she and another dolphin were selected to be trained to search for the Loch Ness Monster. That project was, however, scratched before it was tried.

​Although Molly never raised a calf of her own, she loved the babies born at the DRC to other mothers and demonstrated true enjoyment as a surrogate aunt. In recent years, she partnered with her great friend Tursi and took little Summer, a rescued Atlantic spotted dolphin who came to the DRC, under their flippers. The trio regularly swam together and participated in sessions together.

She formed strong relationships with her human friends as well and was an excellent teacher. Molly helped two generations of marine-mammal trainers develop greater knowledge and experience in the care of dolphins.

Along the way, she developed a fondness for silk scarves and received many as gifts over the years. It was common to see her swim around the lagoons at DRC with a scarf artfully draped over one of her flippers.

We know that there are many, many people whose lives Molly touched. We know that these people join us in grieving over her death. We hope that they will also find comfort in celebrating her amazing life.

Rita Irwin, Mary Stella, Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key