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Fisheries officials unable to help dolphins trapped by ice in N.L. harbour

Last Updated Mar 20, 2018 at 12:20 pm PDT

HEARTS DELIGHT, N.L. – A Canadian Coast Guard vessel was unable to help a group of dolphins trapped by ice in a Newfoundland harbour Tuesday.

Officials say heavy ice in Heart’s Delight has cut off the dolphins’ exit route, leaving them enclosed in a shrinking pool of water.

A statement from the Fisheries Department says it requested help from a coast guard ship that was in the area, more than an hour outside St. John’s, for routine ice reconnaissance.

It says the ship attempted to go into the harbour, but it was determined attempts to shift the ice would be “very dangerous” for the dolphins and cause them additional stress.

Fisheries officials will continue to monitor the situation and say they are hopeful the winds will shift and move ice out of the harbour on Wednesday.

Local resident Brad Sooley says he first spotted the distressed pod on Sunday morning, and since then the pool has been getting smaller and smaller.

“Most of the water has froze up there now. They probably only have a (nine-metre by 12-metre) spot there now, at the most,” he said, adding there are roughly six or seven dolphins.

“They’ve been surfacing. They’ve slowed down a lot more than what they was.”

Sooley said he’s lived in Heart’s Delight his entire life and has never seen dolphins become trapped in the harbour. He said they’re only several metres from the shore.

“Everyone’s down there looking around but there’s not much you can do,” said Sooley. “They’re definitely not getting any feed in there. There’s nothing right in there.”

The department is asking people to keep clear of the animals because of the risk of transmitting diseases.