Do's and don'ts

Don't touch. It's illegal to handle the protected species, and a stranded animal might be sick or injured.

Contact the S.C. Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline, 800-922-5431 or the S.C. Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, (843) 953-9016.

For more information, go to NOAA's Dolphin Smart website at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/dolphinsmart.

KIAWAH ISLAND — Beachgoers called for help when they found a mother dolphin and her calf stranded in the shallows of a tidal run at low tide.

But island naturalists kept people at bay in the incident earlier this week. Mom dug a hole to keep her and the calf in water until the tide returned.

“Then they turned around and thrashed their way to the ocean,” said Jim Jordan, town of Kiawah wildlife biologist.

That's why marine mammal biologists say to leave the animals alone. It's not uncommon for them to get stuck for awhile in the long tidal runs over the flats of Lowcountry beaches and bays, said Blair Mase, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regional marine mammal stranding coordinator.

She urged people to contact stranding biologists if they see a dolphin or other sea creature apparently in trouble.

Bo Petersen