The frantic phone call came in to the PETA office: A dolphin was entangled in a crab pot line in the Elizabeth River near the Sam Simon Center (our headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia), unable to get free and near drowning. Our rescue team rushed out onto the river to help the animal.
The rescuers discovered that the rope connecting a crab pot to a buoy was wrapped around the dolphin’s lower jaw four times as well as around both pectoral fins. The dolphin was fighting to get to the surface for quick breaths before being pulled back down by the weight of the trap. After rescuers unwrapped the rope, which had bitten into the dolphin’s skin, the exhausted animal was able to swim away.
Crab traps, fishing lines, and nets are death traps not only for the animals they target but also for dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, sharks, and all other marine life. Just last month off the coast of Mexico, more than 300 endangered sea turtles were found dead after being trapped in a discarded fishing net. Days earlier, 113 dead turtles had washed up on a beach about 100 miles away, and many of them bore injuries consistent with fishing hooks and nets. Fortunately, PETA was able to rescue this dolphin, but we can’t get to them all. If people would decide to be kind to sea animals, this threat would disappear.
In a PETA investigation of a crustacean slaughterhouse, live crabs—who are living, feeling animals, not robots—were torn apart as their legs continued to move. PETA offers a free vegan starter kit full of recipes, tips, and more to everyone who wants to protect the oceans and their inhabitants.
If you see a marine mammal or sea turtle in distress in Virginia, call 757-385-7575. In the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, call the NOAA stranding hotline 866-755-6622, the Coast Guard, or your local stranding network, and stand by the animal until help arrives. To find your local stranding network, visit the NOAA website.