Bittersweet rescue of beached dolphins

The NSRI's Jeffrey's Bay crew attended to the severely injured dolphin. (NSRI)
The NSRI's Jeffrey's Bay crew attended to the severely injured dolphin. (NSRI)

Jeffrey's Bay - A beached baby dolphin was successfully returned to the sea, while an adult male dolphin was humanely euthanised in Jeffrey’s Bay, the NSRI said on Sunday.

"The [baby] dolphin had been put back into the sea several times but it kept beaching," said deputy station commander Ernie Schmidt.

He said that the National Sea Rescue Institute had been contacted early on Saturday morning by lifeguards about the stranded baby dolphin on Main Beach.

Severe wounds

He and his wife, Elaine, who is also part of the rescue crew and has qualified in a Marine Animal Stranding Network course, went to investigate.

As they waited the dolphin – which was apparently a juvenile Bottlenose Dolphin – luckily did not beach again.

The NSRI received another call – this time from a lifeguard at Kabeljous Beach - later on Saturday.

"They reported a fairly large dolphin stranded, and that the dolphin had... severe wounds on its side and back behind the dorsal fin."

Schmidt and his wife again went to the rescue, enlisting the help of lifeguards and members of the public to ensuring that the animal suffered as little stress as possible while they decided what to do next.

The dolphin was covered in a towel and cared for by various people.

"The dolphin was an adult male Striped Dolphin, reportedly a species very rarely seen in the area."

After a veterinary surgeon, Dr Kathy Bezuidenhout, was called to examine the mammal, it was determined that his wounds were too severe for him to survive if put back into the ocean.

The oceans and coasts division at the Department of Environmental Affairs was also consulted.

Professional assistance

"We arranged to take the animal to the animal hospital," said Schmidt.

A member of the public offered his bakkie to help with transportation.

It later turned out that the man with the bakkie – and his two sons – were involved in an oceanographic research project in which they helped with the tagging of sharks.

"Sadly, after all attempts to save the dolphin were exhausted the dolphin was humanely euthanised by vets."

Schmidt commended all those who had assisted.

He urged people not to try and put beached dolphins or whales back in the water themselves, but to rather contact the NSRI who would alert those in the network to provide professional assistance.

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