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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 20:16 GMT
Trapped dolphin freed from marina
Marra is rescued

A dolphin which had been trapped in Maryport Marina for almost a month has been set free by rescuers.

Marine life experts were worried that Marra, a bottlenose dolphin, was losing weight and decided to drain the marina and net the animal.

The rescue mission took 20 minutes and Marra was released a mile out to sea.

The animal was later seen frolicking with a second dolphin. An attempt to coax Marra out into open waters using specialist equipment failed last week.

Just like a Hollywood ending, it was seen to meet up with another dolphin and they swam away together
Tony Woodley, British Divers Marine Life Rescue
Tony Woodley, a spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group, said the rescue was launched due to the dolphin's flagging health in the cold.

A 100-strong crowd gathered to watch the operation which was also overseen by the police, the RSPCA and the RNLI.

Experts were also worried that Marra, who usually lives in saltwater, was suffering in the freshwater of the marina which was bleaching its skin due to lack of salt.

Mr Woodley said: "It was a fantastic rescue and everything went just like clockwork. The decision was made to leave the lock gates open as the tide went out so the water level in the harbour decreased.

Marra is lifted to safety
Marra is lifted to safety
"A rescue team went into the water when it was around one metre deep and formed a semi-circle around the dolphin.

"It was captured and put on to a waiting stretcher and then lifted on to the harbour by a crane. We then loaded it on to a trailer and took it to a waiting boat where it was taken out to sea and released."

Marine experts were never able to establish whether the animal was male or female.

Mr Woodley added: "It was seen to dive and surface around four or five times and then, just like a Hollywood ending, it was seen to meet up with another dolphin and they swam away together. A really happy ending."

A vet was at the marina to monitor the animal's stress levels and examine it during the operation.

Marra had become a popular attraction for visitors who had flocked to the marina to catch a glimpse.

Previous attempts to coax it out of the harbour had failed because it appeared to be afraid of the gates.

Dolphin rescue bid unsuccessful
27 Jan 06 |  Cumbria
Rescue plan for stranded dolphin
23 Jan 06 |  Cumbria
Dolphin watchers given warnings
13 Jan 06 |  Cumbria

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