A baby dolphin had to be put down by medics after it became separated from its mum and ultimately found itself trapped in reeds miles away from the ocean.
Medics from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue had to be called-in after the common dolphin became trapped at the edge of the New Bedford River near Pymoor, which runs off the River Ouse in Cambridgeshire. The river is located around 45 miles away from the ocean.
With the young dolphin well and truly wedged into the reeds, crews from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to help get it free. With the reeds trimmed back, rescuers were able to get the animal onto a specialist raft.
However it soon became apparent it had some minor trauma to its dorsal area. Not only that, its breathing rate was elevated.
A British Divers Marine Life Rescue spokesman explained: “The young dolphin was almost certainly maternally dependent and would need to be able to find its mother if it were to have a chance of survival, but with no sightings of an adult in that area of the river, it was looking more likely that they had become separated before the calf stranded.
“With the uncertainty of whether the mother was in the river and just out of human sight and hearing, and with the dolphin’s breathing returning to normal parameters, the decision was made to refloat the dolphin in the river, and observe for as long as possible in the low light in case it were to restrand.
“The dolphin initially started to swim down river but quickly stopped and was carried back by the flow of the river to where it had started, the dolphin’s course was corrected but again it made little effort to swim and was just being carried back to the river bank and reeds.
“With the Fire & Rescue service still on scene providing support, a veterinarian was called out and the dolphin was euthanized on welfare grounds at around 1am.”
A post-mortem examination will now be carried out to find out how long the dolphin had been in the river. The rescuers are also trying to track down a second dolphin.
They also issued a warning to the public that dolphins are a protected species. The rescuers added: “We are still looking out for the other dolphin to track its movements and monitor its health.
“If she can find her way back out to sea without intervention that would be the preferred outcome, however we are considering other options if we have further cause for concern over welfare. In the meantime members of the public are reminded that this species is protected by law from disturbance and should not be approached or interfered with in any way by water users as this may cause distress and difficulties with her current situation.”