Canada Trapped Dolphins
Pam Snow  /  AP
Dolphins swim behind drifting ice at Seal Cove, a small town in western Newfoundland, on Wednesday.
updated 2/20/2009 6:35:38 PM ET 2009-02-20T23:35:38

Fishermen and a teenage boy rescued three exhausted dolphins that had been trapped behind drifting pack ice for nearly a week near a town in Newfoundland, the wife of the town's mayor said Friday.

Sadie May said the men cut a path through the sludgy ice in Seal Cove harbor with their 18-foot trawler Thursday night, freeing the dolphins from an oval-shaped hole in the ice they had been swimming in for days.

Two dolphins followed the open channel immediately, but the third was too weak and tired, May said.

"He could barely swim about, the little guy, and the men knew something had to be done. A kid, 17 years old with a survival suit, jumped into the water and the dolphin just kind of attached to him and wrapped his flippers around him, like a friend or a mate," the mayor's wife told The Associated Press.

The teenager, Brandon Banks, helped tow the animal to open water, where it swam away, said May.

The 8-foot-long animals somehow became separated from the open Atlantic Ocean and had been stuck in the ice-filled harbor since the beginning of the week. They survived in a shrinking hole in the ice that was roughly 100 feet by 650 feet.

Residents of Seal Cove, a community of 400, were kept awake by the sounds of the crying dolphins and feared the mammals would die.

The mayor asked the federal Fisheries Department to send an icebreaker, but the department said none were available.

"In the end, it wasn't experts or the government, it was us, the people, who made the decision to rescue them," said May. "In Newfoundland, you don't think about yourselves, you think about others and this time, we were just thinking that we couldn't let these dolphins die."

The dolphins are regular visitors to the waters around Seal Cove, which is about 400 miles northwest of Newfoundland's capital of St. John's.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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