Biologists rescue two dolphins with cut fins in three weeks

Updated: Apr. 3, 2019 at 10:08 PM EDT
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SARASOTA (WWSB) - While marine life recovers from last year’s red tide outbreak, a man-made threat is now impacting dolphins on the Suncoast.

Two have been found with fishing line cutting through their fins in three weeks.

Both of those young dolphins were found in Sarasota Bay and Lemon Bay, which is just south of Sarasota Bay.

Biologists said that without the help of the eight boats and 48 people it took to rescue this most recent one, the 2-year-old would have died.

“It’s a tough time out there right now for a lot of creatures,” said Randall Wells, director of the Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program.

“Here is the dolphin trailing the line with the rip through it’s fin," Wells showed. "The line has also caught a lot of algae and invertebrates and so this acts like a sea anchor.”

NOAA said it had cut through 85 percent of his tail.

The Chicago Zoological Society thinks this is an indirect result of red tide because the harmful algae bloom killed 90 percent of the fish dolphins eat.

“So we’re concerned," Wells said. "With the loss of prey fish for these animals, the mothers especially, are going to be more interested in anglers or being where the fish are and these young animals are gonna just blunder into a line that’s over the side of the boat.”

Warren said this type of fishing line does more damage than others. It’s often referred to as spider wire and is braided, which acts like saw teeth.

“If you could not use this nasty braided line, if it does get tangled around dolphins or birds or manatees, it’s going to do a lot less damage.”

Scientists are also urging anglers not to fish at all near dolphins because it’s easy for them to get caught.

If you’re fishing and see one, they ask that you pull up your line.

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