Couple helps rescue dolphin mom, calf in Savage Harbour
Rescue was part of 'mass stranding event' on P.E.I's north shore
An Ontario couple was out for a walk with their dogs near their summer home in Savage Harbour, P.E.I., when they stumbled upon a young dolphin stuck in the grass, and soon discovered its mother in shallow water nearby.
Lynda Morgan says her husband, Stephen Stewart, was able to get the baby dolphin, approximately 45 kilograms and 1.5 metres long, back into the water.
"But it just stayed there, it wouldn't leave, which was distressing," said Morgan.
With the dolphin still stuck in shallow water, the couple called the Marine Animal Response Society for help. That's when they noticed the other dolphin.
Mother and baby, both stranded
"The mom was listing to her side, she was really struggling, beached on some really shallow water," said Morgan.
The couple stayed on site with both dolphins, until a rescue team arrived, comprised of representatives from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the provincial Fish and Wildlife department, coordinated by the Marine Animal Response Society.
Morgan says the crew, joined later by local fishermen, got out large tarps and gently dug into the sand beneath the dolphin, manoeuvring carefully so as not to harm her fins.
"They dug her out, got the tarp underneath her, it took four guys to move her back out to the bay, it was really amazing."
'I had a hard time holding back tears'
She says watching the rescue effort was incredibly tense.
"It was very emotional, because you really, really want them to be OK, and there's a lot of people trying really hard to make that happen," said Morgan. "I had a hard time holding back the tears."
She said both dolphins were towed out of the harbour, and past the shallow section of the water, at which point she received a text message from one of the rescuers saying both appeared to have made it past the breaker. Morgan describes being there for the rescue as a "once in a lifetime" experience.
I got a text saying: all is well, both dolphins made it out past the breaker, so that was a major YAHOO moment!- Lynda Morgan
"It was really amazing that it turned out well," said Morgan. "I've never even heard of dolphins in the harbour before, it was amazing just to see them, but to be able to actually help them, and it have a positive outcome, was just awesome."
Mass stranding event
According to Andrew Reid with the Marine Animal Response Society, the group that coordinated the rescue, a total of five Atlantic white-sided dolphins were found along P.E.I's northern shore today, and that constitutes a "mass stranding event":
- Two dolphins in the Savage Harbour area
- One dolphin found close to Rustico was also rescued
- A dolphin was spotted swimming in Covehead, DFO intend to check on it Friday morning
- A fifth dolphin was found dead at the Rustico causeway
Reid notes that all the rescued animals appeared healthy, and the mass stranding could be a result of navigational error, or strong winds.
He anticipates another survey will be done Friday, when the weather improves, to make sure no remaining animals are stranded.