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Friday, August 12, 2011

STRANDINGS: Mother and daughter save beached Bay of Fundy dolphin

Published Friday August 12th, 2011

Pair of women dragged animal to nearby Bay of Fundy
A7
canadaeast news service

SAINT JOHN - As Sandra Muise and her daughter Tracy hunted for periwinkles between the seaweed-covered rocks in Dipper Harbour last week, the last thing they expected to find was a dolphin beached on the shore, stranded by the receding tide and struggling to survive.
ENLARGE PHOTO



CANADAEAST NEWS SERVICE
Sandra Muise with the beached dolphin she helped rescue in Dipper Harbour last week.

"I thought it was a seadog, or a shark or something," Sandra said a day after she helped save the marine mammal. "It wasn't until we got a little closer that I realized it was a dolphin."

Tracy said she thought the grey and white animal was dead when they first approached it, but when Sandra splashed some water on its back, the dolphin appeared to "come to life."

"It kind of opened its eyes and started moving around a little," she said. "It kind of startled me."

Sandra said the dolphin opened its large dark eyes and looked at the women, "probably wondering where the hell it was."

She then ran to a nearby house where she knew an RCMP officer lived to get some help, but he wasn't home. His sister, visiting from Ontario, returned to the beach with her, however.

Sandra estimates that the dolphin was about two metres long, and weighed about 80 kilograms.

"A generous helping of fish and chips," she said, a little tongue-in-cheek.

But together, Sandra and the other woman figured they would attempt to manoeuvre the dolphin over the slippery rocks about 15 metres to the water. The two women then held the dolphin's tail tightly, and dragged the animal through the seaweed and mud into the frigid water of the Bay of Fundy.

Tracy said it took them about 20 minutes to get the dolphin back into the water, stopping only to occasionally douse the animal with water from the bay.

Sandra said that once the dolphin reached the water, and after a little prompting, it swam off, turning back once "as if to say goodbye."

"Hopefully it was OK, and survived," she said. "We did our best."

After looking at photographs taken during the rescue, Andrew Reid, with the Marine Animal Response Society in Nova Scotia, identified the animal as an Atlantic white-sided dolphin.

Reid said the dolphin was likely a juvenile, since adults can reach about three metres in length.

Grey, with whitish yellow along its belly and along its side, it is one of four species of dolphin that live in the Bay of Fundy, Reid said. Known to be playful and quite gregarious, it lives along the Atlantic coast from South Carolina to Greenland and across the ocean to Northern Europe.

"They are quite abundant in the area," Reid said. "But, we don't usually get too many calls about stranded dolphins."

Sandra, who has lived along the New Brunswick coast her entire life, said she has never seen a dolphin outside of an aquarium in Florida.

Reid said dolphins generally get beached in the Bay of Fundy because of "navigational errors." He said they sometimes chase schools of fish too close to shore, getting trapped as the famously high tides rush out in the opposite direction.

While Reid said he is happy that Sandra and Tracy stepped up to save the dolphin, he said it is generally unwise for the public to attempt a rescue on their own.

"People should call someone like us or the department of fisheries," he said. "People can get hurt, and it's safer for the animals."

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1 comment:

  1. three cheers, ladies, for your quick action!

    ReplyDelete