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Japan Tsunami Baby Dolphin Rescued from Rice Paddy 1 Mile Inland 12 Days After Disaster

Animal rescue volunteers in Japan were already overwhelmed with work as they try to save as many four-legged earthquake and tsunami victims as they can, but they literally had their hands full yesterday when a baby finless porpoise was found floundering in a rice paddy two kilometers (1.2) miles inland in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.

According to Agence France-Presse, Ryo Taira and his rescue group received an unusual phone call from an excited local alerting them to the ocean mammal’s presence in the rice paddy. “There’s a dolphin in the rice fields!”, 55-year-old Masayuki Sato told them. “Immediately after I spotted it, I realized I could not ignore it. I had to do something. This was also a victim of the tsunami,” he told the Asahi Shinbun.

The rescuers rushed to the field and sure enough, there it was.

Next came the delicate yet heavy work of bringing the animal to safety. The group fashioned a makeshift stretcher out of car parts and a futon mattress salvaged from among the tsunami debris. They then used a net to try to scoop the porpoise onto the stretcher. It didn’t work. Taira ended up having to grab hold of the three-foot-long animal with his bare hands.
The baby porpoise was weakened by its ordeal but very much alive. With local aquariums damaged from the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, the rescuers had no choice but to release it back into the ocean. Taira doesn’t know whether or not it will survive, but he told the Asahi Shinbun that “it’s much better than dying in a rice field, right? It’s good.”

News wasn’t so good for 24 dolphins imprisoned in pens in the harbor at Taiji, which gained infamy for its annual dolphin slaughter, captured in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove. According to the blog Save Japan Dolphins, those animals all perished in the tsunami. But that’s probably preferable to being massacred en masse in a shallow cove.

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One Comment

  1. FranziskaMarch 24, 2011 at 8:53 amReply

    I like good news for a change! 🙂

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