Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stranded dolphin in Naples' rescue was successful

Residents, tourists and wildlife officers spent hours in the cool water off Naples trying to save a stranded dolphin, some cradling the mammal while others sang to it.The adult dolphin, with a scarred side and belly, tried to beach itself by the 2200 block of Gulf Shore Boulevard North."Me and my brother were walking on the jetty and we saw the dolphin pretty close," said Kyle Cederberg, 10, of Massachusetts.

"I wanted to try to swim with him so I went in. He just went close to shore and flipped on its side and got stuck. He's just so beat up and ripped up."

"We took him out three times, and he kept coming back," added Kyle's brother Brad, 12.That's when the brothers and others on the beach realized something was wrong.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission placed a white towel under the dolphin and attached it to ropes so volunteers could hold the dolphin upright."It supports them in the water and helps them with 0 gravity," officer Mark Mahoney said. "You gotta keep them wet and keep them from bumping the bottom."Mahoney remembers only one other dolphin stranding in the past year, near Caxambas Pass. In that incident, several dolphins stranded themselves, he said.

Jenny Field of Naples was one of the volunteers who spent more than three hours in the water helping keep the dolphin calm and upright. They were waiting all that time for a St. Petersburg mammal rescue team to drive to Naples and try to save the dolphin.

"We just held him still and talked to him and sang to him," she said. Others stroked and petted the mammal.Wildlife officers say they don't know what caused the beaching. They don't know whether the gashes caused the stranding or the dolphin got the gashes while being stranded. They also don't know if it's a male or female, but believe it's full grown and weighs about 600 pounds.

Workers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Marine Mammal Research Team took the dolphin to St. Petersburg to try to save the creature and learn more about what might have caused the stranding.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"