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Cape Sable fishermen rescue dolphin

An Atlantic white-sided dolphin was rescued at Stoney Island Beach on Cape Sable Island on Jan.5.
An Atlantic white-sided dolphin was rescued at Stoney Island Beach on Cape Sable Island on Jan.5. - Contributed

Stranded on Stoney Island Beach, dolphin could not battle surf to return to sea

Cape Sable Island - Some kind-hearted fishermen saved an exhausted white-sided dolphin from certain death on Jan. 5.

Desmond Brannen went down to Stoney Island Beach on Cape Sable Island the morning of Jan. 5 to see how rough the surf was.

Huge breakers were smashing along the shore, leaving marine castoffs, including a live dolphin.

Brannen took a picture and went back to show his uncle, Victor Brannen.

The men returned and tried two or three times to drag the dolphin out to the breakers, but the huge surf just kept tumbling the dolphin back onto the beach.

“We were soaking, wringing wet and cold,” said Victor Brannen, who says he then came up with an alternate plan.

With the help of James Swaine and Jordy Atkinson the men heaved the dolphin up onto the tailboard of a truck. It would then be transported to the causeway where the water was calmer.

“It took the four of us and all of our might to get him on the back,” said Brannen, who estimates the dolphin weighed in the vicinity of 400-500 pounds and was about the length of a person. 

Once aboard the truck he opened his eye and looked the men “right in the eye.”

“It was unbelievable. His eye was almost like a human’s. It was like he was thanking us for doing this. It kind of broke my heart at the time,” said Brannen.

Before they started off, the dolphin began floundering around, so Swaine and his girlfriend rode in back, pouring a bucket of water over it during the 10-15 minute drive.

When they arrived, the truck was backed into the water and the dolphin was helped off the tailgate into the ocean.

“We held onto his fin until he got going and began blowing air out of his blowhole. 

“He made a couple of circles around, more or less as if to say thank you, and that was the last we saw of him,” said Brannen.

He adds that since then he’s heard others saw the dolphin swimming near the causeway.

 

An Atlantic white-sided dolphin was rescued at Stoney Island Beach on Cape Sable Island on Jan.5.
An Atlantic white-sided dolphin was rescued at Stoney Island Beach on Cape Sable Island on Jan.5.

 

 

 

 

He still marvels at the close encounter.

“His skin was just slick with a little roughness. It’s the first time I was ever close enough to touch one. They’re awesome-looking animals,” he said.

“Most people might have left him there to die, but we thought it was the right thing to do, even if he would have died going there (to the causeway). At least we tried. Thank goodness he survived.”

More about dolphins

It’s believed the dolphin that was rescued is an Atlantic white-sided Dolphin

- lifespan is 25 years

- highly social and playful animals

- fish diet (like mackerel, herring and hake), squid, and shrimp

- can hold breath for nearly 5 minutes

- gestation period 11 months

- most calves born in June/July

 

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