On Friday afternoon, a team of marine animal rescue experts -- from SeaWorld Orlando, NOAA Fisheries Services, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Chicago Zoological Society, Mote Marine Lab, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and University of Florida - worked together to free a dolphin that had been tangled in fishing line in the Ten Thousand Islands area, a chain of islands off the coast of southwest Florida between Cape Romano and Marco Island.
Photo Gallery: Dolphin Rescue in Southwest Florida
The fishing line was surrounding the dolphin's tail and if left unchecked, could have impacted his ability to survive. Once the dolphin was secured by the rescue team, he was quickly taken to a boat ramp where a mobile x-ray machine checked for additional damage caused by the line, the fishing line was removed cut away, body measurements were taken and the dolphin was tagged with an identification number before he was released to the waters near Marco Island.
Although experts had been monitoring the dolphin for several weeks, weather conditions became favorable late in the week.
The dolphin - named Seymour by dolphin researchers - is estimated to be about 8 years old and is a known resident of the waters near Marco Island. At the end of 2011, members of the Ten Thousand Islands Dolphin Project reported seeing Seymour with the line wrapped around his tail. A team of experts and biologists determined that the line could endanger Seymour, and a plan was put in place to rescue him.
"Discarded fishing line poses a very serious threat to all marine life, including manatees, sea turtles and dolphins like Seymour," said Steve Lehr, from SeaWorld's rescue team. "The easiest way to help is to always recycle fishing line properly in bins found at most docks." Even the smallest amount of line can be fatal to marine wildlife.
Dolphin conservation tips can be found at: www.dontfeedwilddolphins.com.
SeaWorld Orlando's animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to rescue, care for and return to the wild manatees, whales, sea turtles, birds and dolphins. Since the park's rescue programs began, tens of thousands of animals have been rescued.