The Folly Beach Dolphin Rescue

Renae Brabham

I am aware of the fact that I have an illness that almost always attributes a song to a story. Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die," written for the James Bond movie, played out in my head as I wrote this, a reaction to the recent Folly Beach dolphin rescue story (the tale of locals who tried to come to the aid of a baby dolphin, seemingly stranded in the surf). 


First, I give you this: A baby bird falls from a nest in a low-limbed tree in your path. We've been taught not to touch the bird, because the mother may reject it. But, Tom the alleycat saw the bird fall too. He is sprinting to the baby. Do you watch Tom eat breakfast or do you pick the bird up and put it into the nest? Humans: We're truly a benevolent species. We all like to think we have contributed to enriching the lives of humans and animals on our journey. Maybe even saved the life of something, or tried. Because in the moment, that is our instinct.
Hence the story of the mystery Folly Beach dolphin rescue in the Post and Courier this week. The story drew a lot of attention after being hyped and posted on Folly Beach's Facebook page with a picture that obviously didn't depict the true story (it was from a beach in Uruguay). The public outcry was enormous, the masses requesting the true story. No one seemed to be able to find out if it were a fable or what really happened. Possibly, the story died when the baby dolphin died. Fortunately the web mob wouldn't let up and as broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, "Now for the rest of the story."
The real story is in the participation and continuity of life. 
Brien Limehouse and Rick Maupin spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to save a baby dolphin that was found later to have been born prematurely. Marine mammal biologists suggest not to try to rescue but to leave them be. I fully understand the warning, but really, could a father stand by as his son is watching a baby dolphin die in the surf without casting a glance at it?
Yes, I know, everything isn't supposed to live forever. But when we realize our mortality and do what's right in the moment, that's when we begin to live. Which decision will let me sleep tonight? Letting that dolphin lay on the sand in the hot sun to die while children splash around in waves? Or cradling it and pouring water over it while it passes away in my arms? 
It goes against human nature to turn a blind eye to a dolphin, a whale, an eagle, or a hawk lying helplessly in a place that they wouldn't normally be. I smile when I think of people like Brien and Rick and all the unnamed ones that pull up to animal hospitals with injured dogs, cats, birds, snakes... all hoping that they can be fixed. Maybe not, but they tried. A few weeks ago my hubby picked up an obviously hot and distraught box turtle crossing an asphalt parking lot and took it to a pond to release. A friend on his way to work found an injured hawk and took it to an avian rescue center. Another friend (LOL) even helped a mole cross the road. 
Ironically, the night before I read this story, we watched Dolphin Tale, a sweet Disneyesque true story of an injured dolphin rescued and given a prosthetic tale. He lives in Florida and is an inspiration to many paraplegics.  
My favorite story comes to mind. Two strangers walking on the beach. One man is paces ahead, near the surf. The other follows, weaving in and out of the way of hundreds of beached starfish. The man ahead reaches down every minute or two and picks up a starfish and throws it back into the ocean. Eventually, the second man catches up with him and asks, "Why are you throwing that starfish back, there are hundreds of them lying here, how could you possible make a difference?" The man picks up another starfish, smiling, and tosses it back into the ocean, "I made a difference to that one, didn't I?" he replies. 
(Photos by Lauren Limehouse)