Dolphin Pulled to Safety by Family

In Jacksonville, Florida, a vacationing family noticed a dolphin that was stuck on a sand bar, and attempted to rescue it. A woman and her father pulled the dolphin off the sand bar, while the woman’s 11-year-old son caught the event on camera (see below).

Several stories have surfaced in recent news of beachcombers attempting to rescue stranded dolphins. While it is encouraging to see people taking action, experts recommend not trying to rescue stranded mammals independently. The best option in such cases is to call a marine conservation organization if one is available. In a similar situation in Brazil involving 30 stranded dolphins, a marine mammal specialist said the tail-grabbing manner the people used to pull them out of the shallow water could dislocate bones in the tail or even tear off a flipper.

A local conservation organization can respond better, because they are professionally trained in animal rescue. If they are not the first responders, they can forward the call to the right people. If they say they are unable to respond, they might be able to give proper instructions over a cell phone on how to move a dolphin at the same time making sure not to injure it. Some of the marine mammal organizations in Florida are:

Even calling the local fire department might be better than simply undertaking it on one’s own.

While the dolphin in Jacksonville was freed from the sand bar, no one knows for sure whether or not it was injured, because it swam away after it was pulled to deeper water, with no medical examination.

Dolphins are not designed to be pulled on sand by their tails or flippers. Other options might have been to dig sand from under the dolphin, so a number of people could reach under it and pick it up, providing even support for the whole body, or slip a stretcher under it so it could be carried with better support.

When marine conservationists relocate a trapped dolphin, typically they have a team of at least several people. A team of three to six people who are properly trained can handle a dolphin much more competently and gently to ensure as little damage as possible results from the transfer.

Sometimes the people who spot stranded dolphins in coastal areas are tourists who have no knowledge of marine mammal rescue and could either inflict damage on the animal they are trying to help or injure themselves in the process.

Image Credit: BabyNuke, Public Domain

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92 comments

Darla G.
Darla G.4 years ago

I'm glad these folks were able to save the dolphin. I wouldn't have known not to pull it the way they did - I hope this beautiful creature wasn't injured.

Carrie Anne Brown

glad they helped thanks for sharing

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim4 years ago

Thanks for the info. I'm glad the dolphin didn't look like it was hurt.

Carolanne Powell
C Powell4 years ago

A difficult one..I would have been compelled to rescue the dolphin too & would have thought ofpulling the tail or flipper. Pushing the dolphin maybe???

janet f.
janet f.4 years ago

I couldn't imagine not helping that stranded animals. But. I did read that you shouldn't pull them by their tail flipper.

Joan S.
JC S.4 years ago

this is good info. If I came across a stranded dolphin I would want to help and now I know what to do.

Isabel A.
Isabel Araujo4 years ago

So good they helped!

Joan Mcallister
4 years ago

I think the family did what they thought was right, what was the alternative watch it die?

Jelca Bruigom
Jelca Bruigom4 years ago

sorry about the spelling, must be pull instead of pool.........hope you its readable. happens to me

Jelca Bruigom
Jelca Bruigom4 years ago

I read the article about the 30 dolphins too and its sad not to know if they got away properly. To me it makes sense not to just pull a swimmers body over sand backwards, but its nice that people try to rescue themselve. Most important is to spread the word and make people aware.
but what is left of looking the one you rescue in the eye and listen, dolphins are no face to face danger to us so try to connect with an animal, we have things in common and they can speak to us but not if you come from the back like a predator, than there will always be tension. Its difficult not to panic in rescue (dangerous) situations but when there is no personal danger try to contact the victim first instead of just pooling, we need to reassure and show our intentions to be more successful. Don't try this to close with birds by the way cause they can hurt you badly in the face when they get trapped.