Displaced Dolphin Rescued From Pond After Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida's storm surge led to flooding, power outages and high winds. The storm also required an unusual rescue mission on Sunday which involved an injured dolphin that was washed into a retention pond in Slidell, Louisiana.

The Slidell Police Department posted on Sunday that they participated in the dolphin's rescue mission with several other agencies. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration led the rescue effort and worked with a number of other groups, including the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, team members from SeaWorld and the Chicago Zoological Society."Groups from all over the Gulf South converged to help rescue the injured dolphin," the post read.

The police department shared a video that showed how the rescue mission was made possible. Rescuers in kayaks are seen tapping the water with their oars to create ripples that guided the dolphin toward a net. The dolphin was then removed from the water on a tarp and loaded into a water unit on a truck.

Dolphin Rescue 2 (Updated)
A number of agencies offered their expertise in rescuing and assessing a dolphin that washed into a Louisiana freshwater pond. Courtesy of NOAA

The dolphin was first reported on August 30, and the agencies had to work quickly to rescue it.

After getting checked out by professionals at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, the dolphin was deemed healthy enough to be released into the Gulf of Mexico. Before releasing the dolphin, a satellite tag was attached to the dolphin to track its movement.

Blair Mase, the Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator for NOAA, told Newsweek that based on the tracking device, the dolphin is swimming well and for long distances. She is working with the Chicago Zoological Society and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and said the Institute is planning to monitor the dolphin in person at some point this week.

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Mase also told Newsweek that the dolphin wouldn't have been able to survive in freshwater for very long.

"Dolphins can tolerate some freshwater for a period of time, but when that's extended, they wouldn't survive," she said.

The rescued dolphin started to develop some signs of freshwater exposure and had superficial lesions. Now that it's returned to an appropriate habitat, Mase said she is confident that it will make a full recovery.

Though an unusual rescue mission to many people, Mase said it's relatively common for dolphins to wash into unexpected areas. In the Gulf, she said that the surge is high and the water doesn't have anywhere to go. These animals are then pushed into town. Mase said she expects other reports of dolphin sightings will be made.

Dr. Moby Solangi, Ph.D., the executive director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies told Newsweek that 15 people from the IMMS were a part of the rescue team, and provided nets, boats and medical staff.

He said they continue to monitor the dolphin, which has been identified as a young male. Specialists plan to go out and see if the dolphin is alone or if it has joined a pod.

A dolphin as young as the one found in the pond is typically still dependant on its mother, according to Solangi, and doesn't break off until it is three or four years old.

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He said it is more difficult for a male dolphin to be adopted into a new pod, and they are often rejected.

"We hope he finds a group, he's young enough," Solangi said. "But that's up to the group to accept or reject him."

The IMMS may decide, based on the dolphin's condition, to bring it into a facility to be rehabilitated, or taken care of indefinitely. But for now, Solangi told Newsweek that they are taking it day by day.

Jon Peterson of Seaworld Orlando also aided in the rescue mission. He told WWLTV that the teams worked well together to save the dolphin.

Dolphin Rescue
A number of agencies saved a dolphin that washed into a freshwater retention pond in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida. JOHAN ORDONEZ/Getty Images

"The great part is that we got great teams, this town's got incredible people who kept us up to date and told us what was going on...the success comes from the locals from people calling, not intervening, but letting the experts get there, give us some time, get these teams together," he said. "When you do it correctly, this is what you get, you get a perfect day."

The dolphin wasn't the only animal that was found as a result of Ida's storm surge. The Slidell Police Department also posted that many alligators have been spotted since the storm. One of those gators was captured and released back into the wild.