A young female dolphin stranded herself, covered in oil. The rest of her pod swam anxiously by as they cried to each other.
"It had beached itself. Its sides were covered in a quarter inch of oil. We started splashing water, scraped oil off it sides and off its eyes," said Christy Travis, who found the dolphin. "It was very sad, it would make you cry. It was crying. There was pod of dolphins just off surf and they were jumping out of water and they were making noise."
Responders from the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge came immediately, but the dolphin died shortly after.
Now, I have something to say. It's going to sound heartless, but it's extremely important for anyone who ever finds a stranded animal to know. If you ever find a stranded animal, DO NOT touch it. Do not get close to it. This is not for your protection, this is for the protection of the animal. I know, it's heartbreaking to see an animal like a dolphin suffering and in need of help, but the truth is that this animal most likely died because of the stress caused by being handled by humans - not the oil. This was a young animal, and chances are it had never seen a human before. Now all of a sudden it's caked in a strange toxic substance that's affecting its ability to swim, and people are lifting it out of the water and surrounding it. I know these people meant well - of course they meant well. There is no doubt. But the fact is that dolphins are wild animals that are not used to being handled, and once a dolphin reaches a certain stress point, there is no coming back. It will die.
This is why we have thousands of responders all across the country. They have been trained in the proper techniques for handling and dealing with a stranded animal. Marine animals are particularly vulnerable because they are out of their element - literally. I have been trained as a marine mammal and sea turtle stranding responder, and it's hard work. It's not what your instincts tell you to do when you see an animal that needs help. The best thing you could do for a stranded animal is to stay away, give it some room, try to keep quiet, keep other people at least 50ft away and call a responder. Call the police, call animal control, call your local zoo or aquarium, call someone who is qualified to handle the situation. Your job as the person who found the animal is to protect it from curious people and dogs. Staying away and calling for help is the best thing you can do. I know it's hard, but that is the single best thing you can do. And you will be helping a lot.
For more on what you can do if you ever find a stranded marine mammal, please visit the Marine Mammal Center's stranding information page by clicking here.
Full article here (Fox News)