National Parks staff rescue stranded dolphin on Kangaroo Island beach

National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Matt Angave and the parks team work on moving the large, male bottlenose dolphin off the sand bank at Island Beach on Kangaroo Island. Photo NPWS SA
National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Matt Angave and the parks team work on moving the large, male bottlenose dolphin off the sand bank at Island Beach on Kangaroo Island. Photo NPWS SA

National Parks and Wildlife Service staff on Kangaroo Island put their dolphin rescue skills to the test this week rescuing a stranded bottlenose dolphin.

Rangers on Wednesday, July 8 received a call from a member of the public about a stranded dolphin on Island Beach.

The large male dolphin was beached in about 50cm of water and was thrashing about for more than an hour before calming down enough for rangers and field officers to approach safely.

Ranger Matthew Angrave led the rescue effort assisted by a parks team of Anthony McGuire, Nathan Dowie, Greg Church and Matt Grindley.

Also down on the beach assisting were Jean and Dave Turner, who also volunteer for Birdlife Australia monitoring hooded plovers.

Mr Angave said he dolphin didn't appear to have any obvious health issues and was most likely hunting fish close to shore when he got caught out by the falling tide, getting stuck on the inside of a sand bar running parallel to the beach.

"This is a spot where dolphins are known to get stranded - it's thought there may have been around 10 similar strandings in the past 15 years," Mr Angrave said.

"The team was able to carefully shuffle the big male onto a dolphin stretcher - in fact he assisted a bit with his thrashing.

"The team then carried him about 250 metres, out beyond the sandbars, before being satisfied we were in deep enough water to release him.

"By then we were all standing in water up to our chests and being pummelled by the surf. We dropped one side of the stretcher which encouraged the dolphin to swim off.

"One of the team swam a short distance with him to make sure he headed out to sea, rather than returning to the beach due to disorientation.

"We were all pretty chuffed when he swam off with plenty of gusto to hopefully re-join the pod of Bottle-nose dolphins that cruise around the area."

Mr Angave became a ranger for NPWS SA late last year after two years working as a firefighter on the Island.

"It's wonderful to be working in a job where I can have positive conservation outcomes," he said.

"It was my first dolphin rescue and a really great experience. It was pretty much a textbook rescue, with safety a major consideration and it was wonderful when our careful, considered approach, resulted in a positive outcome."

This story National Parks staff rescue stranded dolphin on Island Beach first appeared on The Islander.

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