The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has a message for beachgoers. Stop trying to save stranded marine mammals.
Videos that have spread on social media show what many think are heroic efforts to save a dolphin’s life, but now the FWC is urging people not to do this, saying they are only making things worse.
“But when the animals beach alive, it’s almost always for a reason. They are generally sick or injured,” said Denise Boyd, an FWC marine mammal researcher for the Southwest Florida region.
Boyd, who works primarily with dolphins and manatee, said calls about beached marine mammals come in often.
“But in a lot of cases we can bring them into a rehab facility to get them the treatment they need and release them back out,” she said.
But lately, videos have spread on social media showing bystanders trying to pull dolphins back out to sea, before wildlife officers can arrive.
“Unfortunately it happens frequently. Recently in Naples we’ve had a dolphin stranded twice within a two week time period, and in both instances, folks have pushed the animal back out before we could get there,” Boyd said.
While it might be well intentioned, it often results in the animals dying.
“We’ve gotten photographs of animals dragged back out to sea, and then we have recovered them deceased on the beach. We know it’s them from their fins,” she said.
Which is why now if people see a beached marine mammal, they want people to stay away, and call FWC for help instead.
“I think thats one of our biggest challenges, to try and get folks to realize that these are not heroic efforts. Posting them on social media, and later finding out they died is not an ideal situation for us,” Boyd said.
Anyone who finds a stranded or beached marine mammal like a dolphin, whale or manatee is urged to call FWC Wildlife Alert Number at 1-888-404-3922. For more information, you can click here.