Monday, October 24, 2011

Mola rescue on October 22, 2011 in Wellfleet Harbor

The Sunfish Sisters!

Ocean Sunfish Rescue in Wellfleet Harbor off Mayo Beach - Saturday, October 22, 2011

(Please read Nancy's story about an ocean sunfish rescue after Krill's message)

Message from Krill:
On Saturday, October 22, 2011, I was whale watching offshore when I received a call from CT, a good friend with IFAW's Marine Mammal Rescue Program. CT had just received a report about an ocean sunfish in dangerously shallow water just off Mayo Beach, Wellfleet Harbor. The caller was very concerned that this sunfish was in jeopardy of stranding and her concern was justified.

Since I was offshore and would not be able to assist, I asked CT if the caller could push the ocean sunfish back into deeper water, but only if conditions were safe for the person. That was the last I heard about this situation until I got back to the dock late that afternoon and listened to a cell phone message from the Wellfleet Police Department. They had left a message about this same ocean sunfish and provided the person's contact information.

I immediately called the number and spoke to Nancy, one of the 3 beach walkers that had successfully rescued the ocean sunfish in question. As I listened to Nancy describe the situation, I was impressed with the effort by this trio and was amazed at how much time they had spent in the water (in October), in an effort to get the sunfish back into deeper water. People like Nancy, her sister Kay and their friend Jay are truly amazing human beings. They redeem my faith in mankind. Not many people would have taken the time and effort to help this fish for in many people's minds, it is "only a fish." But they did act and their actions saved one very lucky ocean sunfish!

Thank you Nancy, Kay and Jay for caring enough to get involved and to act. For when the tide is going out, acting fast is the most critical part of any rescue effort. Once an ocean sunfish strands on a beach or on a sand flat, their large size and weight limits any rescue effort. But even when an ocean sunfish is in a few inches of water, they are easy to move and float into deeper water.

Nancy's Story:
My sister Katy and I saw him splashing a lot inshore just before low tide a little after 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22. He was between Mayo Beach and Powers Landing. We walked him out in the direction of the breakwater trying to get him as close to the channel as we could. Jay Allison from WCAI joined our efforts. Jay was taller than us, which was important because the sunfish had to be about 7 feet from top of the dorsal fin to the bottom of the anal fin. Overall, this ocean sunfish was probably 5 feet in length.

He did keep re-orienting himself towards the beach, but we tried to keep him headed out towards the deeper water. Once we got him out in water that was up to my neck (I am 5'3"), we pushed him out towards the deeper water. Then I could not touch the bottom anymore and we lost sight of him near the bottom. By this time the tide was coming in, so hopefully he was in deep enough water to not get into more trouble. It took close to an hour and a half to do this, and his eye kept moving and looking - and he was moving his fins, too. Fingers crossed!

I just read the article in the Cape Codder - and am so glad that we all took the time to help the ocean sunfish!