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About the Founders

Founded in 1984 by Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Stone

Dolphin Quest was founded by Dr. Jay Sweeney and Dr. Rae Stone, veterinarians specializing in marine mammal care, who are recognized throughout the world as leaders in marine mammal medicine, scientific study, and animal management.

doctor jay sweeney with dolphin

Dr. Jay Sweeney - Owner and Board President

For over forty-five years, Dr. Sweeney has been professionally committed to the care and conservation of marine mammals. As a founder and co-owner of Dolphin Quest, he has realized his dream of creating model habitats for bottlenose dolphins and a non-profit foundation that supports vital marine conservation and research. Through Dolphin Quest, Dr. Sweeney has also created innovative interactive educational programs with bottlenose dolphins in a natural lagoon environment.

Since 1972, Dr. Sweeney has operated a thriving veterinary consulting practice in Aquatic Animal Medicine for international clientele and has gained world renown through hundreds of lectures including as the main lecturer in many medical workshops for veterinarians, over 50 published journal articles, and extensive field research work with free-living marine mammals.

His contributions to the development of modern preventive health care programs for marine mammals have revolutionized husbandry practices for these animals in oceanariums and aquariums worldwide. Dr. Sweeney is recognized as a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of aquatic mammals as he continues to provide medical support, new location design assistance, training of personnel in medical capabilities, and a broad array of animal management procedures.

Dr. Sweeney is the past president of the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine and continues to actively serve on many of its committees. In addition, he is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, International Marine Animal Trainers Association, European Association for Aquatic Mammals, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. Dr. Sweeney received the prestigious EXCELLENCE IN MARINE MAMMAL MEDICINE (2002) award from the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine. Dr. Sweeney received “The Sonny Allen Professional Achievement Award for 2005” from the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association.

a group of people in the water

Dr. Rae Stone - Owner and Board President

Dr. Stone received her veterinary degree from the University of Missouri in 1980 and studied marine mammal medicine at Marineland of California. In the 1980s, she provided veterinary consulting services to oceanariums and aquariums, and conducted studies in the application of diagnostic ultrasound to marine mammal medicine.

Dr. Stone pioneered the applications of diagnostic ultrasound in marine mammal health care and in the study of wild dolphin populations. She continues to provide ultrasound consulting in diagnostic ultrasound for an international clientele. Dr. Stone has participated in significant research studies, scientific presentations and authored articles for scientific publications on diagnostic technology adding to her reputation as a recognized international marine mammal expert.

In conjunction with her partner, Jay Sweeney, Rae Stone founded Dolphin Quest in 1984 out of a shared desire to create an alternative to the traditional oceanarium environment. She has served as President and spokesperson of the Alliance for Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. This international association of marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities, and professional organizations is dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals and their environments through public display, education, and research. Additionally, Dr. Stone was selected by the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM) to participate on the USDA’s negotiated role-making panel to revise the care and maintenance standards for marine mammals.

Having relocated to northern Virginia from Arizona in 1996, Rae is enjoying the family horse farm, Brightwood, and pursuing her interest in riding, gardening, and exploring the Virginia countryside. Her greatest joys include the Dolphin Quest family and spending time with her husband, Kent, and sons Austin and Forrest. Having literally grown up in the Dolphin Quest Community, both boys are passionate environmentalists and lovers of all things related to dolphins and the ocean.