It’s always best if humans can avoid interfering in the lives of wildlife, but every so often Mother Nature needs a little help.
One Sunday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Florida, area residents noticed an unusual sight in a canal near the Fossil Park neighborhood. Two mother dolphins and their calves had accidentally swum into the canal and appeared to be trapped.
Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission were called in to investigate. They quickly understood the problem: the dolphins appeared to be scared to swim under the bridge, which is often noisy with traffic.
Dolphins rely on echolocation to find their way in the water. They emit high-frequency sounds and interpret the echoes of sound waves that bounce off of objects in order to navigate. Officials hoped that the dolphins would swim out with the tides, but the next day they were still there.
According to Chuck White, spokesperson for Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the canal has low salinity, “so long-term it wouldn’t be a very good situation,” if they remained there.
The rescue team partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the aquarium to formulate a plan. They decided to form a human chain to herd the dolphins under the bridge and back into Riviera Bay.
Rescuers donned life vests and walked shoulder-to-shoulder in a line down the canal towards the bridge, fluttering their hands in the water to create sound and movement that would drive the mammals away.
And it worked! Forty-five minutes later the job was done. The dolphins immediately responded to the human barrier and swam away from them, under the bridge, and back out to sea. “They didn’t stop, they didn’t look back, they didn’t even hesitate for one second. Once they were through they were headed for home, ” said volunteer Jessica Bibza.
Thanks for the help, humans! This rescue went about as smoothly as it could have, especially since they didn’t even have to use nets, which would have stressed the dolphins out. We love being able to help these majestic creatures stay safe in the ocean — where they belong!
Watch the rescue mission below, and don’t forget to share.
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