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An Entangled Dolphin Approaches a Diver And Gets Help

On the night of January 11, 2013, during a dive off the Kona coast to view manta rays feeding on plankton, something strange happened. After the divers went down and lit up the water, a bottlenose dolphin slowly swam around them before aproaching diver Keller Laros and turning over. In the underwater lights meant to illuminate the manta rays, Laros saw that the dolphin's pectoral fin was entangled in fishing line. He set about cutting the line with his dive knife.

You can watch a video of the rescue in the YouTube clip above. "I am honored to share the footage with you," said Martina S. Wing, the owner of Ocean Wings Hawaii, Inc. "Let's make better decisions about the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it."

Animal entanglement in debris is an everyday problem in the world's oceans. Every year since 1996, NOAA has lead a cruise to the remote reefs and islands of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, also known as the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, to collect flotsam and jetsam. In 2012, they gathered 50 metric tons of trash—that's more than 110,000 pounds.

A NOAA snorkeler cuts a sea turtle free. Photo: NOAA

“What surprises us is that after many years of marine debris removal in Papahānaumokuākea and more than 700 metric tons of debris later, we are still collecting a significant amount of derelict fishing gear from the shallow coral reefs and shorelines,” said Kyle Koyanagi, marine debris operations manager at NOAA Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center. “The ship was at maximum capacity and we did not have any space for more debris.”

—Joe Spring

Filed To: Science / Nature
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