Baby dolphin set free after being caught in fishing nets off Isles of Scilly

Every week in UK waters about 30 porpoises, dolphins, whales and seals die in fishing nets. Credit: Joseph Pender

A dolphin calf which had become completely entangled in fishing nets has been saved by the crew of a wildlife tour vessel.

The crew from Sapphire Pelagics discovered the dolphin calf during a bird-watching trip, 5.5 miles southwest of Bishop Rock on the Isles of Scilly on Sunday 15 October. 

Skipper Joseph Pender, said they initially thought the calf was dead but they knew they had to try to save it as soon as it started moving. 

Joe Pender cut the dolphin free from the fishing net using a pen knife. Credit: Joseph Pender

“As it was only a calf we pulled it onboard through a side door,” he said.

Mr Pender, who was a lifeboat crewman for more than 20 years, then started cutting the dolphin free with a pen knife.

He said he only had “a few minutes” to cut the baby dolphin free, adding: “We didn’t want to keep it out of the water for very long".

An adult dolphin had been hanging around the trapped baby dolphin and they waited for the baby to be rescued. Credit: Joseph Pender

Every week about 30 porpoises, dolphins, whales and seals die in fishing nets in UK waters, according to Whale and Dolphin Conservation UK. 

He told ITV News West Country that the calf swam away with its mother as soon as it was put back into the water. 

“Everyone was happy that we managed to save it,” he said. “It could have so easily been a different ending."

The baby Short-beaked common dolphin rushed to its mother immediately and the pair swam off back into the open ocean. Credit: Joseph Pender