Naude Dreyer had an eventful drive along a southwest African beach in Namibia on June 8.
Dreyer spotted a small stranded dolphin. He stopped and picked it up and carried it back into the ocean. He later posted video of the rescue on Facebook.
But not everyone was happy with what he did: In general, when one spots a marine mammal out of water, one shouldn’t touch it, pick it up, pour water on it, or feed it, states The Marine Mammal Center (MMC) on its website.
One also shouldn’t return it to water.
“Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) never haul out on land, so a dolphin, porpoise, or whale stranded on land is always in danger,” the MMC said.
“Most often these animals are sick and in need of immediate veterinary care.
“They should never be pushed back into the water unless a trained individual has assessed the animal and determined that that is the best course of action.” the MMC said.
And that’s most likely what happened, as Dreyer apparently knew what he was doing.
“I work with a local Stranding network often, and the one thing I’ve seen often, is that time is crucial,” Dreyer wrote on Facebook.
“I did an assessment, saw no visible cause for the stranding and took him back into the water. He took off immediately. In my experience, animals that are not well usually strand almost immediately again.”
Moreover, Dreyer was in a remote part of southwest Africa with the closest veterinarian hours away, he wrote.
But, the MMC warned, mammals such as “seals and sea lions temporarily ‘haul-out’ on land to rest. Harbor seal mothers often leave their pups ashore while they’re feeding at sea. A beached whale, dolphin, or porpoise should be reported immediately.”
There have been multiple instances of wild animals receiving viral attention that may have led to misunderstandings or even negative consequences for the animals.