San Diego

‘Dolphin Doctor’ leaves lasting impact on marine mammal biology

Ridgway was an enormous within the discipline of marine mammalogy, dedicating his life’s work to researching and understanding dolphins marine mammals for greater than 60 years.

SAN DIEGO — Known because the ‘Dolphin Doctor,’ Dr. Sam Ridgway was a pioneer in marine mammal biology and veterinary care, and after passing away in July on the age of 86 after an extended bout with blood most cancers, his impressive legacy lives on.

“He was humble and kind and generous with his time and really just adored by all of us,” stated Dr. Cynthia Smith, President and CEO of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. 

Ridgway was an enormous within the discipline of marine mammalogy, dedicating his life’s work to researching and understanding dolphins and different marine mammals for greater than 60 years.

“Sam studied everything from the way a dolphin processes information, how they had social relationships and their different social behaviors, how they could hear, how they could see,” stated Dr. Smith.  “So he really just tried to understand everything he could.” 

For Dr. Smith, who was like a daughter to him, the ache from Ridgway’s passing remains to be contemporary. 

“These are all of Sam’s treasures that we are still going through,” stated Dr. Smith whereas pointing to a stack of containers and mementos.  “I miss him dearly, but he’s not gone. He’s right here with us. He’s in our hearts.” 

After serving within the Air Force, Dr. Ridgway grew to become cofounder of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program and later, the founding president and CEO of the National Marine Mammal Foundation, a task Dr. Smith now fulfills. 

“He was a pioneer, an amazing scientist, contributed probably more than any single human to our knowledge of marine mammal medicine and science,” stated Dr. Smith.  “And then there’s the personal legacy that he’s leaving behind and the hearts that he touched and the minds that he helped shape.” 

Dr. Ridgway pioneered the sphere of marine mammal drugs and is taken into account by many to be the “father of marine mammal medicine.”  

A e book he revealed in 1972, the identical year he moved to San Diego, stays a extremely sought-after useful resource for marine mammal veterinarians and scientists world wide. 

“This book, ‘Mammals of the Sea,’ he wrote fifty years ago,” stated Dr. Smith whereas holding up a replica of the e book. “And it is still the textbook that all marine mammal veterinarians use.” 

Dr. Ridgway’s legacy lives on by means of the work that the National Marine Mammal Foundation is doing for conservation biology and marine mammal care. 

“We created a workshop, an outreach program called, ‘The Dolphin Doctor,’ inspiring all kinds of kids about what it’s like to be a marine mammal veterinarian, what it feels like and what it looks like to take care of these animals wherever they are,” stated Smith. 

To those that knew Ridgway personally, they are saying he embodied what San Diego is all about.  His passing is a big loss for Smith and plenty of others who adored him and whom he mentored, however his long-lasting mark on the marine mammal group gained’t quickly be forgotten. 

“Sam had such an amazing impact on the marine mammal community all over the world,” stated Smith.  “He was so curious. He just had this boundless curiosity that made him a wonderful scientist and veterinarian, but it also made him a great friend.” 

An interactive StoryFile expertise will be accessed here, which permits a digital one-on-one chat session with the Dolphin Doctor himself. 

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