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Dolphin Rescue


*This is long but worth the read. ** I know the pics are bad quality but it's the best I could do considering the circumstances of the rescue and with a little point and shoot I was using at the time of the rescue. 

I try not to talk about myself, post selfies, and go on and on about what I do for a living on social media.  I like to just let my photographs, my art, speak for itself.  But this... I have to post. 

I have been working in the ocean here on Oahu going on 5 years. I take people out to enjoy our beautiful ocean and enjoy the living sea here on O`ahu mainly and sometimes on the outer islands. I have seen so many amazing things. Every day in the water is unique and I love it!   Spinner dolphins are probably my favorite creatures to spend time with.  I love their personality, the way they play, and absolutely love watching how they interact with each other.

When I was working on tour boats I would be in the water taking photos of our encounters along with our guests, a tour guide and 1 to 2 safety swimmers.  We would show our guests where the dolphins are and have them look at them from the surface.  We would not chase the dolphins, we would not drop in on top of the pod, and when they decided they are finished swimming with us, they’d leave.  It's a beautiful experience for everyone to be able to experience dolphins in the wild and in their natural environment and not pay to see the poor dolphins acting as slaves in abusement parks in captivity. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to document these amazing creatures with a camera.

One day on tour, a pod of spinners was finished swimming with us and went their own way.  The guests were all out of the water and back on the boat and only my friend Julie, who was the tour guide that day, and I remained.  I ducked my head back into the water so I could take my fins off when I spotted something directly under me on the ocean floor about 50-60ft below.  It was a female spinner dolphin, all by herself, and barely moving as it hugged the sandy bottom.  I signaled to Julie to look with me and we both noticed that the spinner had what appeared to be fish netting wrapped all the way around her entire body.  It turns out that it was not fishing net but a very large section of plastic barrier netting used on land.  We looked at each other and immediately knew we had to try and save her if humanly possible.  

The dolphin was moving very slowly, still hugging the bottom.  It could not move its pectoral fins because the netting was wrapped so tightly.  The blow hole of a spinner dolphin and it's eyes are in line with each other and the netting started just an inch or so behind her eyes and blowhole, wrapping around both her pectoral fins, dorsal fin, tail stock, and tail fluke and trailed off about 2 to 3 feet behind her.

We floated on the surface following her slowly as she made her way along the bottom just hoping that she would soon surface and breathe.  About a minute later she started ascending slowly.  Julie and I positioned ourselves within arm's length of each other and directly over the spinner.  The spinner turned and recognized that we were there and surfaced directly in between us.  She exhaled from her blow hole and did not attempt to swim away or dive back down.  She was asking for our help and we were happy to assist.  I wrapped both of my arms around the back half of her body between her dorsal fin and tail fluke. There was no fighting, thrashing, or trying to get away, she just calmly laid in my arms breathing in and out several times.  She was exhausted and let me just hold her while Julie carefully unwrapped the netting from around her body.  It took Julie about 30-45 seconds to unwrap her and once she was finished I asked her if the netting was clear and if she got it all?  Julie excitedly said yes and I gently let go of the beautiful creature and watched as she slowly glanced back at us with a look of appreciation on her face.  She slowly began to swim and move with normal flexibility just under the surface.  We watched her head off into the vast blue distance as she no doubt went to go find her pod, her family that had no choice but to leave her behind.

Julie and I were high-fiving, hugging, and screaming with excitement as we held the evil, man made monstrosity out of the water and signaled for our boat to retrieve us.  We couldn't believe what just happened and were so thankful that she had come to us for help. 

I like to think that we not only saved her life but also the lives of her future offspring, her offspring's offspring and on and on for generations to come.

PLEASE re-think plastic, remember to take your trash with you when you frequent our beautiful beaches and if you see any rubbish near our shorelines, please pick it up and take it with you.  If we don't take care of this beautiful place we've been blessed with, who will?

PLEASE, don't buy a ticket to a dolphin show or "swim with dolphins" program anywhere in the world. They ALL contribute to what is going on right now in Taiji where they are slaughtering and capturing dolphins from the wild just so that aquariums, dolphinariums, swim with dolphin programs, resorts and amusement parks can keep their concrete tanks filled and bring in more money. 

Go out and enjoy them in the wild, where they belong.