BON SECOUR, Ala. (WALA) - Boaters on the Bon Secour River witnessed a tragic sight on Thursday, May 9, as they came across an injured, stranded dolphin barely able to swim. What appeared to be lesions all over its body have given folks who saw the animal cause for concern.
Cousins John William Sherman and John Lowell Sherman were out on a leisurely boat ride when it turned into a desperate attempt to give the dolphin another chance.
"It was shocking and it was heartbreaking to see this dolphin suffering," said John William Sherman.
The Shermans said when they found the dolphin here in the Bon Secour River, it could barely swim or see where it was swimming.
He said when they got close, they noticed the dolphin's wounds. They then called authorities and told them about the animal.
"There was something growing on this dolphin. He had lesions, and it was like it was eating his skin. His eyes were covered by it. I didn't know what to do," Sherman said.
The Sherman's said they have been fishing, swimming, and boating on the Bon Secour River their entire lives and they said they've never seen anything like this before. They said they were worried it could be something in the water.
"You see things growing on them, barnacles and such, but not like this. It's terrible," said John Lowell Sherman.
Officials with the Alabama Marine Resources and the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which works with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who responded to the scene, said they believe the lesions on the dolphin are the result from too much exposure to fresh water.
"The symptoms are not uncommon for animals that have had exposure to fresh water. But at this point we don't know what happened before the animal became exposed to it," said Dr. Ruth Carmichael with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
Officials said while they were observing the animal it sank under the water and disappeared. They believe the animal is dead.
Officials hope to do more tests on the dolphin so if you see the carcass wash ashore, don't hesitate to call the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. If you see a stranded mammal, call the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-877-WHALE-HELP.
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