The fourth of July turned out to be a lucky day for one baby dolphin, who was rescued by wildlife officials after it ran into danger on a Florida beach.
Beachgoers first noticed the juvenile, four-foot-long baby dolphin struggling in the surf, USA Today reports. Though some bystanders attempted to help the dolphin back into deeper water, they were thwarted by a strong current. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called, and a team arrived to assist the animal. Beachgoer Katie McCabe was able to film the moment when team brought the baby dolphin out of the surf and on to the sands, as a crowd of onlookers gathered.
Dolphins that find themselves stranded on beaches are in serious trouble, according to the Dolphin Communication Project, a team of scientists devoted to studying the animals. A dolphin or whale that strands itself is usually sick, and often may be suffering from infection. Pneumonia is common in beached dolphins, as are parasites. While weather and human activity can also be factors in dolphin strandings, incidents that involve multiple animals often have uncertain causes.
Scientists have postulated a number of reasons that dolphins may find themselves stranded. Deep diving animals, dolphins use sonar to navigate, and some scientists believe that the animals are unable to properly “see” sloping beaches until it is to late. Panicked, the dolphins often run themselves aground. Some highly social species of dolphin may even follow their group leader on to a beach if that animal becomes trapped aground, whether from sickness or mistake. Yet another theory suggests that whales and dolphins may navigate using the earth’s magnetic field. When that field is disturbed, as it sometimes is by solar storms (or Coronal Mass Ejections), scientists believe that the animals become disoriented, and may inadvertently be trapped.
During 2012 and 2013, a high number of dolphins mysteriously washed ashore, as The Inquisitr previously reported. During the month of January 2013, an astonishing 400 dead dolphins were found on Peruvian beaches. Tests performed on the animals were inconclusive, failing to show a cause of death to which the mass casualties could be attributed. In August of 2012, nearly 300 dolphin deaths were reported along the East Coast of the United States, a rate that was seven times higher than what is usually reported.
According to local CBS affiliate WTSP, the Florida Wildlife Commission is now caring for the rescued baby dolphin, with assistance from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
[Images via Gawker and MailOnline]