Two lifeguards in Oceanside, California, rescued a struggling dolphin Thursday morning, and their amazing encounter was caught on video by a third rescuer.
A dolphin was spotted off the coast of Oceanside, California, at around 10 a.m. on Thursday morning and appeared to be struggling and in distress. Three local lifeguards jumped on a boat and headed out to the dolphin’s aid. When they reached the six-foot dolphin, they found it tired and clearly struggling to free itself from fishing line and ocean debris. A discarded beer bottle was also tightly constricted around the dolphin’s body, making it difficult for the dolphin to swim or keep itself at the surface to breathe.
Two of the lifeguards went into the water to assist the dolphin; one tried to console and keep the dolphin calm and afloat while the other freed it from the fishing line. One of the rescuers, lifeguard Ryan Thompson, spoke to local news about this once-in-a-lifetime experience and the connection he experienced with this very aware animal.
The dolphin responded to the efforts of the rescuers, with Thompson adding that after the animal’s terrifying ordeal, it seemed grateful for the lifeguards’ help, and thanked them in the only way it knew how.
“Its head was going side to side, from about 3 to 5 seconds it was looking at [us]. And then slowly swam away, right underneath our boat.”
Every year, marine life, including dolphins, whales, and sea turtles, are endangered by fishing lines, nets, and ocean debris which ensnare the animals, impairing their movement until they drown, or cut off critical blood flow and their air supply until they lose limbs or meet a very painful end. While some measures have been taken to attempt to protect dolphins from the harm posed by the destructive commercial fishing industry — especially at tuna fisheries — those measures are minimal at best.
These measures are not always very well regulated and have done little to protect marine life from ocean litter. The animals are also at risk from careless private fishermen who discard lines and fishing nets that harm already fragile animals that are facing threats from rising sea temperatures due to global warming, ocean acidification, pollution from agriculture runoff and factories, and other environmental threats.
Given how dangerous these situations can be, this turned out to be one lucky dolphin, and the encounter is not one the lifeguards are likely to forget anytime soon.