At the age of five, Dr. Sarah Sharp declared her dream to become a marine mammal veterinarian. As she grew up she became enthralled with the interconnectedness of all living things and the importance of conserving wild spaces. After graduating college, she dedicated two years to environmental and community service in an AmeriCorps program where she started volunteering for the local marine mammal stranding network.
Volunteering turned into a profession, as Sarah became the Stranding Coordinator and responded to thousands of stranded marine mammals. She also pioneered IFAW’s stranded dolphin satellite tagging program, which was developed to track dolphins after their release back to the wild, evaluate their success, and inform future rescue protocols. To date this program has satellite tagged more stranded dolphins than any program anywhere in the world. She also challenged the long-held belief that healthy single dolphins could not be released back to the wild. Satellite tracking helped demonstrate that these dolphins not only could survive following release, but thrive at sea.
In 2015, Dr. Sharp graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. After earning her veterinary degree, she completed a small animal medicine rotating internship at a busy emergency and referral practice. She then worked as the Conservation Medicine Veterinary Fellow at the National Marine Mammal Foundation, combining clinical work and field research investigating the long-term health effects of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill on the coastal population of bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana.
Dr. Sharp now serves as the Animal Rescue Veterinarian for IFAW. Based on Cape Cod, MA, her primary responsibilities are with IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Program. There, she provides medical care to stranded dolphins, whales and seals to improve their health and welfare as well as their chance of survival after release back to the wild. Sharp also researches marine mammal health and disease by performing field diagnostics on live animals as well as necropsies on animals that do not survive. Sharp leads IFAW’s seal remote sedation program, which facilitates disentanglement, treatment, and release of entangled gray seals on Cape Cod. Other current projects include entangled large whale sedation at sea for disentanglement, researching causes of mortality in endangered right whales, live stranded large whale response, and advancing field diagnostics for stranded dolphins and whales. Sharp also assists other aspects of IFAW’s Animal Rescue work around the world with conservation medicine efforts for a wide variety of species.
Sharp SM, McLellan WA, Rotstein DS, Costidis AM, Barco SG, Pitchford T, Jackson K, Daoust PY, Wimmer T, Couture EL, Bourque L, Fauquier D, Rowles T, Hamilton P, Pettis H, Moore MJ. 2019. Gross and histopathologic diagnoses from North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) mortalities between 2003 and 2018. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 135(1). DOI: 10.3354/dao03376
Iruzun Martins MC, Sette L, Josephson E, Bogomolni A, Rose K, Sharp SM, Niemeyer M, Moore M. 2019. Unoccupied aerial system assessment of entanglement in Northwest Atlantic gray seals (Halichoerus grypus). Marine Mammal Science 35(117). DOI: 10.1111/mms.12590
Sharp, S. M., Harry, C. T., Hoppe, J. M., Moore, K. M., Niemeyer, M. E., Robinson, I., Rose, K. S., Sharp, W. B., Landry, S., Richardson, J. and Moore, M. J. 2016. A comparison of postrelease survival parameters between single and mass stranded delphinids from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Marine Mammal Science, 32: 161–180. doi: 10.1111/mms.12255
Sharp, S.M., J.S. Knoll, M.J. Moore, K.M. Moore, C.T. Harry, J.M. Hoppe, M.E. Niemeyer, I. Robinson, K.S. Rose, W.B. Sharp, D. Rotstein. 2014. Hematological, Biochemical, and Morphological Parameters as Prognostic Indicators for Stranded Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from Cape Cod, MA, USA. Marine Mammal Science, 30:864-887. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12093
Joblon M.J., M.A. Pokras, B. Morse, C.T. Harry, K.S. Rose, S.M. Sharp, M.E. Niemeyer, K.M. Patchett, W.B. Sharp, M.J. Moore. 2014. Body condition scoring system for Delphinids based on Short - beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Journal of Marine Animals and their Ecology, 7(2):5-13.
Dennison S, M. Moore, A. Fahlman, K. Moore, S. Sharp, C. Harry, J. Hoppe, M. Niemeyer, B. Lentell, R. Wells. 2012. Bubbles in live stranded dolphins. Proceedings Royal Society B 279:1396-1404. DOI: 10.1098/ rspb.2011.1754
Houser, D.S., K. Moore, S. Sharp, J.J. Finneran. 2010. Rapid acquisition of marine mammal evoked potential audiograms by stranding networks. The Journal of Acoustical Society of America 128(4): 2299. DOI: 10.1121/1.3508077
Bogomolni, A. L., K. R. Pugliares, S. M. Herzig, et al. 2010. Mortality trends of stranded marine mammals on Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts, USA, 2000 to 2006. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 88:143-155.
Pugliares, K., A. Bogomolni, K. Touhey, S. Herzig, C. Harry, M. Moore. 2007. Marine Mammal Necropsy: An introductory guide for Stranding Responders and Field Biologists. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Technical Report WHOI-2007-06. DOI:10.1575/1912/1823
Conservation Medicine Veterinary Fellow, National Marine Mammal Foundation United States
Associate Veterinarian, VCA South Shore Animal Hospital United States
Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator, IFAW United States
Disaster Responder, Philippines Typhoons, IFAW Philippines
AmeriCorps Member and Crew Leader, AmeriCorps Cape Cod United States
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with Honors and Thesis, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University United States
Bachelor of Arts, Human Biology, Stanford University United States