March 18th, 2013 by Jake Richardson
Two fishermen in New South Wales, Australia were near the Tweed River when they saw a dolphin beached on a tidal river flat. They assumed the dolphin was dead as it wasn’t moving and appeared left high and dry. As they approached, they were surprised to see the marine mammal move and actually appeared to be somewhat animated when it saw humans approach.
There is a video of the rescue and it is definitely a moving one. It isn’t clear how long the dolphin was stranded, but it is likely it got that way after swimming close to shore trying to catch fish. The tide probably was going out and it didn’t notice, so the margin was for error was probably razor-thin. According to Whalefacts.org, dolphins can only survive several hours out of water, or they become dangerously dehydrated.
You can see in the news video that the dolphin is grabbed by the tail during rescue. While it may seem like a logical choice to grab a dolphin there and pull hard, doing so could rip a flipper or break bones in the tail, because it was not designed to be used for pulling. If a dolphin has a damaged tail, it will not be able to swim and so it won’t catch fish and will probably starve to death.
Reportedly, a better way to transport a dolphin is to get something underneath it, like a sheet so that the weight is evenly distributed and dolphin is well-supported across its body. It might have been better for the men to get their hands underneath it and gently lift up to carry it slowly, even if only for a few feet at a time. Of course, most people that come upon a stranded dolphin are not going to know how to handle them properly and would want to help, but they may wind up doing some severe damage.
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