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Rescuers battle to free dolphins

Western Morning News

1st August 2003

Two dolphins stranded in a Westcountry harbour for 48 hours were last night rescued and released into deep water.

The common dolphins lost their bearings in the English Channel and swam into Brixham Harbour.

Once in the restricted space, the animals were confused and ended up swimming around in circles trying to find their way out.

Among those called to try to help the stranded creatures were British Marine Life Rescue Team members from Exmouth, and RSPCA inspector Tony Woodley.

The dolphins were spotted late on Tuesday night by security guards keeping watch over the harbour, but the animals were still there at 7am yesterday when the Maritime and Coastguard team arrived for work.

A spokesman for Brixham Coastguard said: "It was strange seeing such beautiful creatures trapped in the harbour.

"The harbourmaster pushed them back into the sea a couple of times during the night but they just swam straight back in. It was as if there was something in the harbour they wanted to find. It is not surprising the dolphins made their way in because they are very curious creatures and like to nose around.

"Luckily the water is at half tide and it doesn't look as if either of the dolphins are at any risk."

RSPCA spokesman Janet Kipling said a decision was taken yesterday afternoon to catch the dolphins, which were then given a high-energy drink. The weaker mammal was also given an antibiotic injection for a wound on its back.

"The dolphins were then taken by boat to deep water outside the harbour where they were rested for about an hour or so," she explained.

"They were released at about 10pm and they are still in the area at the moment. We have all got our fingers crossed that they stay out there and don't come back into the harbour."