The founding father of marine mammal medicine.

Sam Ridgway, DVM, PhD, DACZM is the President of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. He is one of the founders of the Navy Marine Mammal Program starting in 1961 and has 52 years of experience in marine mammal medicine and research. Sam joined the National Marine Mammal Foundation in 2007. Colleagues often call him the “father of marine mammal medicine” because of his development of dolphin anesthesia, medical technology, and discoveries aiding marine mammal care.

Dr. Ridgway has served on the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Marine Mammal Commission, on four different committees of National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, and was elected a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America for his studies on hearing of marine mammals and as a fellow of the American College of Zoological Medicine for his work on marine mammal medicine. His many awards include: the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine; the Lifetime and Clinical Medicine Awards from the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine; Lifetime Membership Award, Society for Marine Mammalogy, the Kenneth S. Norris Lifetime Achievement award of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, the ZooMarine Award of the European Association for Aquatic Mammals; and, two Navy awards, the Gilbert H. Curl Award, and the Lauritsen Bennett Award.

Dr. Ridgway earned Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from Texas A&M University. He earned his PhD in neurobiology from the University of Cambridge in England. In the 1960’s, Dr. Ridgway pioneered dolphin anesthesia, medical technology, and methods for studying trained dolphins swimming freely in the open sea (his discoveries have been published in more than 300 papers in leading scientific journals such as Science, Nature, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America and Scientific American).

Today, he wants to seize a unique moment in time. Now it is vital to preserve animals with experience in human/computer communication. With many years of human interface and learning, these animals offer a unique opportunity. They offer a great advantage in understanding the large dolphin brain. How this unique “mind” interacts with other animals and the ocean environment is a major challenge of our time.

Aquatic Mammal Journal Interview

If you enjoyed these clips of Dr. Ridgway from the Aquatic Mammals Historical Perspectives series, please sign into the journal’s website ( to listen to more from Dr. Ridgway or one of the other 100 or so participants from more than a decade of the series.