Humans haven’t exactly made life easy for marine animals. Every year we dump 8.8 million tons of plastic trash straight into the oceans, commercial fisheries have over-exploited or depleted a majority of fish stocks, and we have made it a habit of endangering marine animals all for the sake of selfies. We might not think about it often, but without a thriving ocean ecosystem, the world as we know it would not exist. The oceans produce around 70 percent of the world’s oxygen and act as vital carbon sinks that help slow the progression of climate change. But all of this will stop if we don’t take action to slow the inevitable collapse of the world’s oceans.

There are many ways that we can all lend a hand to help marine animals, but it all starts with fostering a deep respect for these creatures. We need them more than they need us, so we all need to step up and aid their survival. Thankfully, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team is doing just this.

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A huge part of what this awesome team does is rescue and rehabilitate stranded whales and dolphins. While there are many reasons that experts believe cetaceans strand themselves on land, a few include ship strikes, plastic ingestion, or an injury caused by commercial fishing nets. The IFAW team recently witnessed a string of three different stranding events involving Atlantic white-sided dolphins off of Cape Cod.

In a blog post update, IFAW’s Kristen Patchett explains that the rescues of these animals were complicated due to numerous public interventions. People often have good intentions when approaching stranded marine animals, but ultimately, professional help is needed to prevent excess stress which can cause more harm than good.

This awesome rescue team worked tirelessly to come to the aid of the animals in need, and this single photo captures the immense dedication of their efforts.

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It might be tempting to rush in and help a stranded marine animal if you come across one on the beach, but IFAW stresses the importance of waiting for professional help before taking action. A stranding event can be sort of like experiencing a car crash for dolphins, so you can imagine the sort of stress, shock, and fear they undergo when they find themselves on land.

Thankfully, thanks to their knowledge and expertise, the IFAW team was able to rescue all the dolphins who were stranded over this three-day span and after medical treatment, the animals were successfully released to the wild.

How You Can Help Marine Animals

We might not all be able to help marine life in the same way these rescuers did but we can play our part by taking quick action and calling professionals whenever we come across a marine animal in need.

To find out how you can help protect the oceans and its inhabitants, check out these resources:

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Image source: IFAW/Flickr