Banana Bay Tour Company passengers had a cruise to remember when a young man onboard spotted a dolphin beached at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River where it exits into the San Carlos Bay. Brett Garlich from Allen, Texas, the hero on the boat, gives his account of the events leading up to the dolphin being rescued that day:
“I was with my grandparents on a tour when I spotted an object on a sandbar, but couldn’t tell for sure what it was. I asked my grandfather for the binoculars. With the binoculars I could see a fairly large object but couldn’t tell what it was. Then in a wave action I saw the tail flopping and knew it was a dolphin. I told the First Mate, Danny, that I saw something stranded on a sandbar off in the distance and was sure it was a dolphin. Danny looked but could not see it so I went to Captain JR and told him that I see a dolphin off in the distance on the sandbar.
Captain JR could not see anything either. I checked again with the binoculars and was positive there was a dolphin on the sandbar. I went to Captain JR again and asked him to take a closer look. After several minutes of observing the area he saw the dolphin and navigated the boat close to the sandbar where the dolphin was and beached the boat.
Captain JR jumped out of the boat into water about knee-high and waded over to the dolphin, lifted the dolphin and moved it into deeper water. The dolphin swam out a few yards and swam right back onto the sandbar. Captain JR returned to the boat and used the boat radio to call Water Rescue and gave them the location of the stranded dolphin.
Within about 15 minutes a Rescue Boat arrived and picked up the dolphin to take it to a rehab facility for examination and treatment.”
Dolphins can become stranded for different reasons. Sometimes they get trapped by changing tides. Dolphins will always swim downstream with the tide. When they get caught swimming where the tide is changing direction it can put them in shallow water that they are not able to swim in and the dolphin will become beached. Also, when a dolphin is injured or sick it will also beach itself.
When this particular dolphin beached itself on the second time Brett and Captain JR knew that the dolphin must be ill or injured and they needed to contact the proper authorities to get help for the dolphin.
The dolphin was transferred from us to the Lee County Sheriff Department and then taken to the town of Punta Rassa near Sanibel Island. From there the dolphin was transported by van to the Mote Marine Dolphin and Whale Hospital. Mote Marine Dolphin and Whale Hospital has been rehabilitating whales and dolphins at their Sarasota, FL based facilities since 1992.
Thank you to all of the folks that made this possible: Brett Garlich (AKA “Official Stranded Dolphin Spotter” of Banana Bay Tour Company), the Lee County Sheriff’s Department Marine Unit and all of the people at Mote Marine Dolphin and Whale Hospital.