Florida Family Rescues Stranded Dolphin

PHOTO: Father and daughter team George Heheman and Kerry Ware rescued a stranded dolphin in Jacksonville, Florida.
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A Florida family's leisurely boating day turned into a rescue mission when they spotted a dolphin stranded on a sandbar as the tide was quickly going out.

"We were turning the corner and we saw a dolphin that had beached itself on a sandbar and it looked like she was trying to come out of a smaller creek into open water," Kerry Ware said.

Ware, 41, and her family were aboard her parents' boat in Jacksonville for a day of sunny relaxation Thursday when they spotted the frightened animal.

"Dad jumped out and tried to help her but, of course, she wasn't having it," Ware said.

By chance, days earlier, Ware's father, George Heheman, 72, had watched a video online of 30 dolphins stranded on a beach and people pulling them back to water by their tails.

"I tried to get her off of the sandbar and she kind of fought me," Heheman said.

The video, shot by Ware's 11-year-old son, Justin, shows the dolphin whipping the father-daughter duo back-and-forth before they jump back momentarily before trying again.

"She fought us at first, and then I don't know whether she realized what we were doing or not, but she quit," Heheman said.

He estimates that the creature weighed about 300 pounds and says they were only able to drag her because there were still four to five inches of water on the ground.

"She was very heavy and very strong," Ware said. "If it had been any later, we wouldn't have been able to pull her out on sand alone."

As Ware and Heheman pulled, they heard Justin yelling, "There's another one. There's another one."

They looked over and saw a baby dolphin in a tidal creek. They think the mother dolphin may have been feeding the baby in the creek and then got stuck on her way out.

After a few minutes of pulling, Ware and Heheman got the dolphin into deeper water and helped direct the baby out of the creek while the mother waited. Then, the two swam away together.

"It was so sweet," Ware said. "I was just beaming from ear to ear and we'd just sit for the rest of the day saying, 'I can't believe we just did that.' It was such an amazing experience."

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