Residents jump into chilly seas to rescue trapped dolphins, displaying strong sense of community

Image Source: Facebook/Geraldine Legge

The stark reality of climate change is unfolding before our very eyes, and one of the species that is being hit the hardest by human activities is dolphins. They are frequently exposed to drastic temperature fluctuations and are losing their natural habitats. To save these creatures, numerous programs and community initiatives are being implemented, including one in a rural community in Newfoundland, as reported by CTV News Atlantic.

The mayor of Heart’s Delight-Islington, Melvin Harnum, takes great pride and admiration in the extraordinary show of bravery and compassion exhibited by the members of his community in March 2023. This small town, which sits at the southern end of a harbor in Trinity Bay and has a population of approximately 675 people, saw over a dozen locals, including members of the volunteer fire department, selflessly plunge into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean to save a group of dolphins that had become trapped by a large crush of sea ice.

As the distressed dolphins fought to stay afloat, the resourceful rescuers sprang into action, utilizing deep-bellied sleds that are typically employed for transporting ice-fishing equipment or wood to load the animals. Despite the difficult circumstances, they succeeded in keeping the dolphins alive and ferrying them to safety on the shore. This heartwarming rescue operation is a testament to the unwavering sense of community and camaraderie that is present in Heart’s Delight-Islington, where individuals are prepared to go the extra mile to assist those who require aid.

According to Harnum, some of the residents braved the freezing waters with just sneakers on their feet, and without any protective gear. “My God, ice water!” he exclaimed. He went on to say that if the idea of using sleds to transport the dolphins had not occurred to the rescuers, the animals would not have

On the morning of March 11, images were shared online depicting a group of around twelve distressed dolphins that had become ensnared in the rocky shallows near the shore. Harnum clarified that the dolphins were trapped due to strong winds and tides that brought a surge of ice to the region.

As per Wayne Ledwell, a marine biologist affiliated with the Whale Release and Strandings group in the province, the dolphins that were trapped happened to be white-beaked dolphins. These dolphins do not typically dive deep beneath the ice to avoid danger, hence they attempted to migrate towards shallower waters. Unfortunately, the rocky shallows caused them harm and resulted in lacerations on their bodies.

According to Ledwell, “These animals, they won’t last on a beach very long for being bruised up by ice.” When he reached the site in the afternoon, he discovered that the citizens of Heart’s Delight had already taken measures to move the dolphins. He stated that he loaded the remaining sleds, along with the dolphins, onto a flatbed trailer and transported them to Whiteway, a nearby town where the harbor was free of ice.

Ledwell disclosed that a few of the dolphins did not survive the ordeal, and some others were unable to navigate through the Heart’s Delight harbor before being ensnared once again as the ice shifted. Later, the Coast Guard dispatched an icebreaker vessel to the region to break up the broad sheets of ice.