airboats rescue dolphin


posted: 8 Feb 2013 19:30

On Jan. 20, Lea Walker with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network received a call that a dolphin was trapped in a mudflat. The only way to get to the animal was by airboat.

Fortunately, the fisherman who called about the dolphin had an airboat. He allowed the group to use it to try and get the dolphin to safety. Another airboat in the area was also recruited in the effort.

Dolphin being coraled into shallow water

Dolphin being corraled into shallow water

They had to corral the dolphin in very shallow water, perhaps a few feet in depth, and they also had to deal with the mud, which had them on their knees, and at some points, on their stomachs. If they stood, they would simply sink down and wouldn’t be able to move around after the dolphin, who did not seem to want to be caught.

The volunteers spent about four hours in the mudflat, trying to get the dolphin onto a stretcher so they could load it into a boat. Just as darkness was fast approaching, the animal got onto the stretcher and was placed on one of the airboats.

“He was in good shape,” Walker said. “We were beat up, but he was in good shape. We had one tooth lost, one shoulder separated, one hand broken. We had our share of injuries, but we weren’t going to give up. We had to do it, you know? And actually, I don’t think we’re the heroes. I think he was. He finally made that choice to let us do it.”

The animal was taken out to the open water where he was released.

So how did the dolphin get into the mudflat?

The rescue team believes he was simply chasing fish down an inlet when he ended up trapped. They said the dolphin was 9-10 feet long, and weighed over 500 pounds.

Walker said that, without the use of the airboats, she and her volunteers would not have been able to save the animal.


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