Rescuers formed a human chain to help get four dolphins, stranded in a canal, find their way back home. The volunteers in St. Petersburg, Florida, are now being praised for successfully directing the group of dolphins into more open waters.
“We had two pairs of dolphins, mom-calf pairs, that were swimming around in this canal behind me,” Clearwater Marine Aquarium‘s Chuck White said in a video posted to the aquarium’s YouTube channel on Wednesday.
He added that they had received calls about dolphins in the canal which is very low in salinity, not a good long-term solution for these animals.
White explained that there are bridges along the canal that seemed to become a problem for the four dolphins, as these kept them from being able to get back out to Tampa Bay. According to CNN, initial reports of the dolphin presence in the canal began on Sunday. Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission waited to see if the animals would find their way out on their own with the tide. By Monday, it became obvious that they needed help to get back home.
A group of people working with CMA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration volunteered their services to assist the stranded dolphins. FWC biologist Andy Garrett explained to the gathered group of volunteers that their objective would be to try to encourage the dolphins with a human chain of people slowly moving up the canal as a barrier. Their aim was to convey the message: ‘Hey, this noisy barrier’s coming your way, and [the other direction is] the way to get out.’
Over a dozen volunteers formed the human chain, which used vibrations and sounds to help lure the dolphins back toward safer waters. Onlookers watched the rescue from a bridge, taking photos and videos. According to CNN, the rescue mission lasted about 45 minutes before the animals were successfully on their way into Riviera Bay, which feeds back out into Tampa Bay.
“They didn’t stop, they didn’t look back, they didn’t even hesitate for a second. Once they were through, they were headed for home,” said National Wildlife Federation representative Jessica Bibza, as shown in the CMA’s video.
“This is a first for me — I’ve never done this type of intervention where we do not set a net,” added White. “But it’s always nice having a successful rescue.”