The wind was blowing 10-20 knots out of the north and there were whitecaps on the water. Air temperature was 40 degrees and the water temperature was in the low 60s — not one of Florida’s more pleasant days for being outdoors and wet.
At 10:53 a.m., we encircled the dolphins and had both mom and calf restrained in the water by 10:55 a.m. As lead veterinarian Mike Walsh and his veterinary team were quickly removing the line from the calf, the very feisty mom broke away from her handlers but remained near her calf. He finished removing the line and gave the calf — which was determined to be a female — a dose of antibiotics. At 10:58 a.m., both dolphins were released and swam off together.
Dr. Walsh noted afterward that while the calf was very thin, it was in better condition than he had expected, so we have hope that the dolphin will survive.
CMA spotted Matilda and her calf a few days after the intervention and reported that the calf was more active and swimming much better than before the line was removed.
We remain concerned about this dolphin, however. Given the highly disfigured shape of her dorsal fin, she’s at a high risk of continuing to catch line on it, and we may have to intervene again.
Of course, one of the saddest parts of this dolphin’s story is that her life-altering entanglement was a result of human activities and could have been prevented.