MARCO ISLAND (CBSMiami) – Like a scene out of the movie "Dolphin Tale," an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin was rescued in the waters off Marco Island after its tail became entangled in fishing line.
A team of marine animal rescue experts worked together to free "Seymour," a dolphin who is well-known in the Ten Thousand Islands, a chain of islands off the coast of southwest Florida between Cape Romano and Marco Island.
Seymour, estimated to be about 8-years old, was first spotted with the line around his tail at the end of 2011 by members of the Ten Thousand Islands Dolphin Project.
A team of marine experts and biologists determined that the line, which was wrapped around his lower body between his dorsal fin and tail, was cutting into his flesh and could endanger his life, so a plan was put in place to rescue him.
After monitoring Seymour for several weeks, the team of 26 people using half a dozen boats managed to secure Seymour on Friday, March 9, 2012.
He was quickly taken to a boat ramp where they removed the fishing line, used a mobile X-ray machine to check for additional damage, took body measurements, and tagged him with an identification number and satellite tracking tag before he was released back to the wild.
"Discarded fishing line poses a very serious threat to all marine life, including manatees, sea turtles and dolphins like Seymour," said Steve Lehr, from SeaWorld's rescue team. "The easiest way to help is to always recycle fishing line properly in bins found at most docks." Even the smallest amount of line can be fatal to marine wildlife.
The rescue team was made up of participants from Sea World Orlando, NOAA Fisheries Services, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Chicago Zoological Society, Mote Marine Lab, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and University of Florida.
Seymour's injury is similar to what happened to Winter, a dolphin whose story was told in the 2011 movie "Dolphin Tale." Winter's tail had to be amputated and she was fitted with the first-ever marine mammal prosthetic tail. She lives at the Clearwater Aquarium.
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