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Marine Biologists Form Human Chain To Help Lost Dolphin Find Its Way Home.

Florida biologists form human chain to help dolphin trapped in canal

Every once in a while, we all need a helping hand… or thirty.

In early January, residents in Clearwater, Florida contacted the Clearwater Marine Aquarium about a dolphin hanging out in the creek behind their homes. The dolphin was acting normally, but without contact with other animals the sea-dwelling creature simply couldn’t stay in the creek.

Dolphins are highly social animals who need contact with others for their mental health. They’re also federally protected from harassment, which tends to happen when people notice the animals in areas where they should not be. Not long ago, another dolphin named Izzy was stuck in a nearby canal, and eventually she couldn’t hunt for herself because she’d become reliant on humans for food. She’d also been struck by boats, putting her in physical danger. Eventually she was transported to the aquarium because she could no longer live in the wild.

The biologists in Clearwater wanted to avoid another Izzy-type situation, so they formulated a plan to help this young dolphin find their way out of the narrow channel towards Tampa Bay. About 28 biologists from three different marine rescue groups formed a human chain to guide the animal out.

“The goal was to not put hands on the animal,” explained Brittany Baldrica, a senior rescue biologist with Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “The goal was to just be a barrier that was novel to the animal, so we wanted to create a physical barrier as well as an auditory barrier, so we had somebody behind us that was banging on a boat, revving their engine and then we were splashing the water and moving forward towards the animal, so we were giving the animal the option to swim through the bridge on its own.”

The volunteers all stood shoulder-to-shoulder to create a barrier, splashing their hands to keep the animal from coming near them. It took some time to move down the creek as one unit, but it was all worthwhile when they finally guided the dolphin into the channel and watched the marine mammal swim off in the right direction.

Thank you, helpful humans! This little guy deserves to be free, and we’re so glad there are people willing to go to such lengths to help animals.

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