DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — A day at the beach for Nick LeBlanc turned into a dolphin rescue operation Sunday.
LeBlanc told Eyewitness News he was walking along the beach at Round Hill with his girlfriend when they noticed splashing in the water. Realizing it was a dolphin, LeBlanc jumped into action and into the water.
Luckily for the dolphin, LeBlanc had some idea what he was doing. It turns out he worked at the former Ocean Explorium in New Bedford and has an interest in marine biology.
“I’ve kind of been around marine bio and marine life for a long time so I wasn’t too worried about what was happening,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc said the mammal had some minor cuts and scrapes but was in overall good health. It took a few tries, but LeBlanc said he was finally able to help the dolphin swim away from shore.
“I tried to turn him around and push him out back into the water, he had a cut on his fin, a cut on his flipper, but nothing too serious,” he said. “He was about seven or eight feet long, I’d say probably like four or five hundred pounds.”
Jay Williams of Dartmouth caught the entire rescue on video.
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Eyewitness News checked with Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program about what people should do if they spot a stranded or beached mammal.
While LeBlanc was clearly trying to help, the aquarium said people should not approach beached mammals, as they are protected by federal law.
Instead, they should call the aquarium’s 24-hour Animal Rescue Hotline at 860-572-5955 ext.107. The aquarium said to leave your name, a phone number where you can be reached and the location of the animal.
Here’s some other advice the aquarium issued:
- Do not touch the animal. All marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This law makes it illegal to touch, disturb, feed or otherwise harass marine mammals without authorization.
- A beached whale, dolphin or porpoise should be reported immediately and left alone pending further instruction.
- Give the animal plenty of space. Crowding stresses the animal and may cause it to act aggressively.
- Keep pets away from the stranded animal. Not only can they bite and cause injury to the stranded animal, but they may be injured by it. Diseases can also be transmitted between stranded animals and pets.
- Do not pour water on a seal, feed it, cover it or attempt to move it into the water. It is normal for seals to come ashore to rest.
- Be observant. Take note of any obvious signs of injury, the overall body condition of the animal (is it robust or thin?), identification tags, the presence of other animals (especially important with dolphins), the sea state and recognizable landmarks that will make it possible to locate the animal.