Surfskier Saves Baby Dolphin

Saturday, 11 February 2006 17:50 | Written by 
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10/02/2006 08:00  - (SA)

Mariska Petzer , Die Burger

Cape St Francis - Initially he sprinted to the surf for a juicy, fat fish in the shallow water and then he suddenly became a dolphin rescuer.


This, briefly, was the drama in which Dave Hall, an engineer in this tiny coastal resort, played the leading role, saving the life of a baby dolphin not longer than a woman's arm.


The little dolphin, probably not older than five days, was floundering in the shallow water of Cape St Francis.


Beach strollers saw the struggling dolphin and told Hall, as well as Trudi Malan of Aubatis, a marine and wildlife rescue service.

From his house Hall thought it was a big fish floundering in the shallows.


Malan also ran to the scene and saw Hall sprinting towards the area. "Run, Dave, run," she shouted, but when they reached the place the fish was supposed to be there was nothing.


Hall and Malan - who had by that time been told it was a baby dolphin and not a fish - ran up and down the beach trying to locate the little dolphin.


"Then we saw one of the local residents running into the water and we knew where it was.


"If I have to make a guess, I would say the little animal is not older than five days.


"Shame, and it was making the most feeble plaintive sounds," Malan said. She realised it was imperative for the baby to be released as quickly as possible near a group of dolphins.


She phoned the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and the Spirit of St Francis boat was immediately despatched.


However, the boat could not get right onto the beach. Hall ran back to his house, collected his surfski, ran back to the beach, took the baby dolphin on board and rowed to where the NSRI boat was cruising behind the breakers.


"By that time it was almost dark and we were getting worried about Dave's safety," said Malan.


"I spoke to the NSRI guys and asked them to go for Dave and forget about the dolphin, should his surfski capsize. "


Hall and the baby dolphin reached the boat safely, which left immediately to the vicinity of the Cape St Francis lighthouse, where a group of dolphins was seen earlier.


The baby was then carefully sent back to its natural element.


"Al we can do now is to hope that the dolphins will adopt the baby and that he was, possibly, reunited with his mother.


"What we do know is that the NSRI crew heard very satisfied signals when the little dolphin was once again back among its kin," Malan said.


NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said the baby dolphin was possibly separated from the school by strong currents.


Malan had nothing but praise for the NSRI crew and their key role in the marine rescue drama.


"Had it not been for them the baby dolphin would not have made it - it has not even weaned and the only manner in which it can survive is among other dolphins."

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