After becoming stranded in a creek in Cornwall, England, a dolphin was finally freed and returned to the open ocean after a five-hour rescue operation.
On Monday morning, a construction manager named Leon De Sola Pinto suddenly heard the sound of a dolphin whistling, coming from one of Helford River’s many creeks, as reported by Cornwall Live. De Sola Pinto approached the creek and saw a dolphin struggling in the shallow water.
“Its blow hole was going mad and it was obviously very distressed. It had made its way down from the Helford and got stuck, the poor thing must have been there overnight,” De Sola Pinto told the local news outlet. “I stroked and calmed it and wanted to get it on its way again so picked him up and guided him to deeper water. I pushed him out but it was so knackered it tilted to one side.”
According to Yahoo News, this is far from the first time a dolphin has accidentally traveled from the ocean to Helford River and gotten trapped, due to all the muddy tidal creeks.
De Sola Pinto got in contact with local group British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), who came to help rescue the dolphin. As BDMLR explained in a Facebook post detailing the five-hour rescue operation, the team had to wade out about 100 meters into the shallow creek, climbing over fallen trees, to get to the struggling dolphin.
When they finally made it, De Sola Pinto had been waiting with the dolphin for three hours, supporting the dolphin by the edge of the creek. The team safely captured the dolphin, and brought the animal to shore for a medical assessment.
Natalie Waddington, BDMLR’s Veterinary Support Coordinator, was dispatched to the scene where she assessed the dolphin’s health. Waddington said the dolphin was in moderate nutritional condition, showed evidence of several healed injuries, and had a bloody cut above one eye, meaning the dolphin was having some difficulty keeping that eye open. But other than that, the dolphin was in satisfactory health — so the team decided to return the animal to their natural habitat. (A spokesperson BDMLR tells Green Matters that the team did not check if the dolphin was male or female.)
Earlier in the day, a local family who walked by the rescue mission offered the use of their boat — so after marking the dolphin’s dorsal fin with three orange stripes for future identification, the BDMLR team boarded the boat with the dolphin gingerly secured inside.
They traveled the three miles to the open ocean of Fal Bay, and carefully lowered the dolphin into the water in a stretcher. Fortunately, the dolphin was clearly happy to be back home, so after a few minutes, the team set the animal free, and they watched them steadily swim back into the open ocean.
After hearing so many stories about dead or dying dolphins who wash ashore with stomachs full of plastic, it’s refreshing to finally hear news of a dolphin triumphantly making it back to the ocean after an incident like this. Even though this situation did not seem to be the result of plastic pollution, there’s so much we can do to protect dolphins, other marine life, and our oceans — click here for a list of six ways to help celebrate and protect our oceans.