Trapped dolphins' escape from Heart's Delight harbour hinges on wind changing

The survival of a trapped pod of white-beaked dolphins is dependant on the wind changing and blowing the ice that has them pinned in the water away.

Harbour too shallow for ice breaker to come in to rescue dolphins

Spectators in Heart's Delight observe the trapped dolphins on Tuesday afternoon. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

The survival of a trapped pod of white-beaked dolphins is dependant on the wind changing and blowing away the ice that has them pinned.

At least seven dolphins have been stuck in the harbour in Heart's Delight for much of the past week.

The fins of three dolphins are visible above the water in Heart's Delight. (Submitted by Geraldine Legge)

Wayne Ledwell, with Newfoundland's Whale Release and Strandings group, says a rescue is doubtful, because the harbour is too shallow for an ice breaker to access.

He said that if a vessel could cut a path, the ice would likely close too quickly for the dolphins to follow and escape. 

DFO officials monitor the situation in Heart's Delight. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Nonetheless, a local fisherman entered the water in his boat on Tuesday to try and clear up a little more space to allow the dolphins to swim around.

Ledwell said the best hope for the safety of the dolphins is for winds to push out the ice that's trapping them in the harbour.

DFO monitoring

Officers with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) were onsite in the community on Tuesday.

Concerned citizens in Heart's Delight, Newfoundland hope the winds change to allow a group of dolphins to break free from sea ice. 1:00

DFO officers had requested assistance from a Canadian Coast Guard ship in the area, but it was determined that it would be too dangerous for the dolphins if the vessel attempted to shift the ice in the harbour. 

The organization said its hopeful that with offshore winds predicted Wednesday, the ice will move out of the harbour and allow the dolphins to escape.

In the meantime, DFO is reminding people not to touch any mammals because of the possibility of disease transmission. 

It's unclear how long the dolphins can remain in the harbour before their lives are endangered. 

With files from Zach Goudie