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Volunteer rescuers save baby porpoise trapped on B.C. beach

A dramatic rescue unfolded on the coast of Vancouver Island on Sunday evening.

A young harbour porpoise was trapped on the shore along a popular resort area near Nanoose, B.C.

Nathalie Marie was the first person to spot the marine mammal, which could easily be mistaken for a dolphin.

"It had lacerations on the body, but nothing bleeding," she told CTV News. "We believe it's caused by the rocks because it was shallow water."

Uncertain of who to call for help, Marie took to social media.

"Because on a Sunday who do you call?" she said laughing. "So [community members] were able to make other phone calls, and the DFO was right on it as well."

Several people answered Marie's call for help, including the DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and someone with marine mammal experience.

Guided by a representative of the DFO on the phone, a group assembled by the harbor porpoise and were advised on how to return it to the ocean.

Rescuers put a towel under the porpoise for about half an hour and removed a fishing line that was tied around its nose before they tried to move it back into the ocean.

More than a dozen community members volunteered to help the stranded harbour porpoise. (Submitted)

"When I first touched it and brought it into deeper water it had like this burst of energy and it just went – but it came right back to the shore," said Marie.

DFO marine mammal coordinator Paul Cottrell says the porpoise small porpoise was likely a newborn.

"Definitely under a couple of weeks of age," he said.

"Harbour porpoise are really common and this time of year there are a lot of harbour porpoise calves, and we do get a pulse of deaths this time of year," he said.

Eventually, the group was able to take the porpoise to deeper waters by putting it on a paddle board.

It's not known how the porpoise fared after the rescue, but Marie says she was thrilled by the community's efforts.

"It was magnificent. it was just this community getting together," she said.

"It gives hope, it gives like joy-de-vivre. It shows together that we can pull great things together," she said.

The DFO says the group did the right thing by reaching out to the Marine Mammal Hotline before trying any action, something it says should be done every time people come across marine animals in distress. Top Stories

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