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Dead Dolphin Found Wrapped in Netting by West Hawaii Marine Mammal Rescue Network

Earlier today, a friend posted a disturbing picture of a dead dolphin that was wrapped up in some netting off the Kona Coast of Hawaii.

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

I had to inquire more about this incident and this is what was told to me about the dead dolphin they encountered:

It was a very sad encounter.  To say the least.  I’m part of the West Hawaii Marine Mammal Rescue Network, which is a NOAA group, but was out for a fun day on the water with friends.

At approximately 9:10am, I saw a spinner dolphin floating upside down with his pecs sticking out of the water.

Photo Courtesy of Julie Steelman

Photo Courtesy of Julie Steelman

I instantly knew something was amiss.  We drove closer and could clearly see a fishing net wrapped around his Rostrum, his neck, draped down his righthand side and then wrapped around his tail.  He was caught in the net from nose to tail and didn’t have a chance.  In my opinion, he drowned.

He was a very healthy looking male spinner dolphin.  He didn’t have any fresh cookie-cutter shark bites on him.  He was a little over 5′ long and was beautiful.  He was already dead when we found him.

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

We found him right near the large pipe at OTEC/NELHA, just north of Garden Eel Cove.  I could see at least 10 “swim with dolphin” boats at garden eel cove.  It was unclear if the dolphin had just surfaced and/or the dolphin swimming boats had or hadn’t seen him.

We were headed up to the Manta cleaning station to do some free-diving and then out for a whale watch.

I was instantly sickened and went into action letting NOAA know there was an entangled deceased dolphin.  He was fresh and hadn’t been there very long at all.

I felt enraged seeing this beautiful ocean animal just being himself and getting entangled in something some human put in the water.  It was so avoidable and unnecessary.  I always remind myself of Ram Das’s quote…”hold a space of infinite unbearable compassion”.  I feel so much compassion for the animals, who are completely innocent, and we STILL think the ocean is a grand dumping ground.  That the debris and garbage we put in it doesn’t hurt anything.  I feel like the animals don’t have a voice and we could certainly be more mindful of keeping their habitat clean.

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

So, my insides were a cocktail of compassion, sadness and outright anger.

With NOAA”s permission, we later transported the dolphin to the harbor.  We iced him and he was picked up and flown to Oahu.  He will be examined and used for research.  The only good that comes out of this is they get a very fresh animal to study.

Julie Steelman