Earlier this month, a pod of about 100 to 150 pantropical spotted dolphins became stranded and disoriented in shallow waters at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve about 250 km south of Perth, Australia. The Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation arrived on the scene, where they quickly assessed the seriousness of the situation. After one of the dolphins died, they put a plan into place that involved some ingenious thinking — and a tiny baby dolphin.
According to conservationist Deon Utber, it's unusual for a large pod of dolphins to become stranded in this region. Thankfully, the spotted dolphins weren't beached, instead milling around in the water. But because they weren't leaving on their own, DEC had to take matters into their own hands.
To help the pod get to where it needed to go — and at the critical time — the DEC team waited until high tide. Then, the conservationists "translocated" one of the baby dolphins to deeper water, where it began to emit a distress signal.
That was the trick. Once the calls started, the dolphins swam to the deeper waters and met up with the juvenile. Once reunited, the pod swam out to sea. There was no sign of the group the following morning.