MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — Some Bay Area fishermen rescued a young dolphin that got its tail wrapped in a crab pot rope on Saturday, in the Gulf of Mexico, a few miles west of John’s Pass in Madeira Beach.

  • Fisherman rescue dolphin caught in a crab pot rope
  • Fisherman suspect dolphin got tangled while going after fish
  • Rescue was captured on cell phone video

“We were on our way back in from fishing,” said Zach Railey, 34. “Went past a crab pot and saw a little dolphin kind of popped its head up and we saw that the crab pot pulled with it... So, we kind of knew something was wrong.”

Railey said he was on Taylor and Kyle Nifong’s boat, the owners of Reel Water Charters, at the time. Kyle captured most of the rescue on cell phone video, until he had to stop recording to help free the dolphin.

“Saw that the crab pot had wrapped around its tail. We knew it would be pretty easy to undo it,” said Railey. "We just didn’t know how powerful he was going to be once we grabbed a hold of the line. It took all three of us."

On the video, you can see the dolphin initially get scared as the men pull on the rope and it dives underwater with the buoy. 

“He’s trying to get it under. Get away from you,” one of the men said on the video.“He’s going to yank it out of your hand if you ain’t careful.” 

It doesn’t take long for the juvenile dolphin to realize the men are trying to help and it calms down. Once it was freed from the crab trap, Railey said the dolphin thanked them in its own way.

“Once we got it done, it kind of popped up once or twice, it flipped it’s tail up in the air,” he said. "You could tell it was excited that it was finally off that crab pot. Which was really cool to see.” 

Railey said he suspects the dolphin got entangled while going after fish beneath the crab trap.

“What we think is Tripletail sit underneath the crab pot,” he said. "So, he was probably in there trying to catch them, to eat the Tripletail and just got wrapped up in the line.”

The fishermen said it felt great to save the dolphin. Especially, knowing that the famous Winter the dolphin lost its tail to a crab pot rope.

“We’ve spent thousands and thousands of hours on the water. Seeing all sorts of things but never anything like that,” Railey said. "So, it was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to help him and hopefully something we never see in the future.”