Heroic Rescue: Biologists Form Human Chain to Save Stranded Dolphin in Creek

[, Clearwater Marine Aquarium]

Some brave and smart-thinking animal rescuers used a creative way to help steer a lonely dolphin back to the ocean after it became stuck in a creek for over two weeks. They created a human chain in the middle of the creek and ushered the poor guy back to safety. 

Brittany Baldrica, a senior rescue biologist with Clearwater Marine Aquarium, told Fox 13 that residents in the area had called about the dolphin swimming alone in the creek earlier in the month. 

“A team from the aquarium monitored the dolphin for about 18 days and he didn’t leave the creek,” the outlet reported. 

“He was behaviorally ok at that point and then upon talking to other people within the residency, they had said the animal may have been there for at least four days, so we were just concerned separated from other animals,” Baldrica continued.

“Being in such a small area with a residence around, so it was in a neighborhood, so we were concerned for the potential of human interaction and harassment, so just like with Izzy’s story, she was in an area for a prolonged amount of time. People started learning that she was there and then she started dealing with a lot of different harassment issues,” she said.

Izzy is a dolphin the aquarium saved a few years ago. “The female dolphin was rescued in June of 2022 near North Padre Island, Texas by NOAA and partners from the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network after years of illegal human interaction in the wild caused her health to decline to the point of requiring intervention and medical attention,” according to her biography. 

Video captured by the aquarium shows their work in action.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium posted a message on its website saying it “was proud to work with our partners at NOAA-NMFS and FWC to successfully encourage a lone dolphin from a residential creek in Clearwater, Florida, to open waters. A team of 28 biologists formed a human chain to create a visual and sound barrier to guide the animal to safety.

CMA’s Rescue team monitored this dolphin daily since January 1, 2023, to assess its behavior, body condition, and environment. We noted that the animal was in good body condition with normal respiration rates and was displaying normal behavior, such as foraging, during observations. Since monitoring began, the dolphin had not left the creek. This posed potential long-term problems for the animal, such as isolation from other dolphins and an increased risk of harassment and human interactions. Therefore, NOAA determined it would be in the animal’s best interest to intervene to help the animal leave the area.”  

CNET noted, “It’s not easy to pull off a human chain in a creek. The biologists had to stay shoulder to shoulder and navigate trees and docks without giving the dolphin an opportunity to slip by. The human encouragement worked, though there was a moment of uncertainty as the team members neared the bridge and weren’t sure if the dolphin went through.

The biologists celebrated the dolphin’s arrival on the other side. “It was very exciting after almost 20 plus days for him to finally be out of the canal,” said senior rescue biologist Brittany Baldrica.

The wandering dolphin stands a good chance back out in the wild. “We noted that the animal was in good body condition with normal respiration rates and was displaying normal behavior, such as foraging, during observations,” the aquarium said. Happy ending achieved.”

[Read More: See How High Schoolers Built A New Hand For Their Friend From Scratch]


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