Dolphins rescued at Heart's Delight-Islington, some still trapped in ice
The mayor of Heart's Delight-Islington, on the south side of Trinity Bay, says he first heard reports of a pod of dolphins being trapped by sea ice along the coastline of the community around 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Melvin Harnum says within a couple of hours rescue efforts started, as personnel from the local fire department and Fisheries and Oceans Canada arrived at the scene.
Harnum said a group of onlookers formed to observe the rescue efforts and it was heartbreaking to see the animals struggle and fail to get free because of sharp rocks along the coastline.
"They were trapped on the beach and they were beating themselves," said Harnum. About a dozen dolphins were beached, according to the mayor.
The rescuers were able to free some of the dolphins late Friday afternoon by using a pelican sled to get across the sea ice.
The dolphins stayed there for a few moments, he says. There was a danger of them being stuck again as the water started freezing with a change in tide, but they eventually dove underwater, and Harnum was unable to see them again.
Wayne Ledwell, the co-director of the Whale Release and Strandings Group based in Portugal Cove-St. Philips, says many dolphins were saved Friday with help from the town's residents. He says rescuers are on site Saturday morning and that there are still some dolphins wading in the ice.
"They can't handle it," said Ledwell, who says he knows three dolphins have died. "The ice rubs them up and they get exhausted."
Ledwell says he's previously saved dolphins in similar situations, and that residents play a large part in the rescue effort as many of them are familiar with the ocean's currents and the layout of the harbour.
"There's no playbook on this," said Ledwell. "There's no protocols. This is all so dynamic. Ice is changing, ice moves in, people got to act real fast and try to move these animals."
In a statement to CBC News Friday, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said that "the Whale Release and Strandings Group are on site and, with the assistance of fishery officers and the community, is working to relocate the animals to Whiteway which is currently ice-free".
The community has seen a similar situation in the past. In 2018, seven white-beaked dolphins were trapped near the town's wharf. Eventually there was a successful rescue effort but it took days.