Caught on cam: Tour guide saves dolphin in distress in Lemon Bay; FWC says, not so fast

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Sailing through Lemon Bay with Riding The Waves tour guide, Connor Pressly, you’re bound to see plenty of wildlife.

“We see a ton of dolphins… baby dolphins to adult dolphins, as well as manatees, wildlife of birds,” said Pressly.

But, recently, on a personal catamaran tour off of Rocky Creek, Pressly saw one animal that need help.

“They got em, they got em,” you can hear in a video capturing the event. Pressly, who is pictured in the orange shirt in the video, saw a dolphin stranded and in distress.

“I just saw this dolphin with all these boats sitting around him and he was stuck on the sandbar,” he said.

WINK News Reporter Erika Jackson took the 20-minute boat ride out to Lemon Bay with Pressly to see the sandbar where the dolphin was stranded, spotting many dolphins and manatees on the way.

“He was literally just laying right here on the sandbar. It looks a little bit deeper but it was low tide,” Pressly said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says if you see an animal in danger, be sure to call their hotline immediately. They have volunteers and partners to help distressed animals like this dolphin. FWC also says they make a conscious effort to rescue animals in a timely manner.

Rescue attempts could endanger or injure the dolphin and may be in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Violating the act could result in fines or jail time.

But Pressly just wanted to help. “I just wanted to do something quickly. I figured I’d just get him in the water and save him before any other chance that he could get hurt or injured,” he said.

FWC says they do take intent into account when handing out punishments.

“I just hope that he’s still out there catching fish and with his pods being happy,” Pressly said.

FWC added in a statement:

Dolphins are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1971 and that the FWC urges the public to call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline to report an injured or stranded dolphin. If you see a marine mammal in distress, you should contact FWC immediately so trained professionals can assess the animal and give it the medical attention it may need. The FWC responds to reports of distressed dolphins by investigating reports from the public and performs rescues for those animals in need of intervention. Call FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline: 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922), press “7” to speak with an operator. 

“Never push back a stranded marine mammal back out to sea if found stranded on the beach.  Pushing a dolphin back into the water without proper equipment or assistance from experienced staff could injure the dolphin further.”

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