Irma: Cuba airlifts dolphins to safety from deadly hurricane

Jeff Farrell

Officials move mammals to aquarium in south  of country before historic storm rips across north

Teams of rescue workers in Cuba airlifted a group of dolphins to safety from Hurricane Irma, hours before winds of up to 160mph struck the area.

The mammals were housed in an aquarium on the island of Cayo Guillermo, off the north central coast of the country, where theCategory 5 storm swept across the archipelago.

Officials removed the six sea creatures from the water and placed them on mats, then wrapped them in giant blue sheets to prepare them for the evacuation.

cuba-dolphins-1.jpg                                              Men carry the dolphins during their evacuation (Agencia Cubana de Noticias)
Trainers then massaged the mammals’ head to minimise the distress caused, footage on a local news channel Mediodia showed.
cuba-dolphins-2.jpg                                  Staff massage the dolphins’ heads to reduce the distress they suffer during the evacuation (Agencia Cubana de Noticias/Facebook)
Rescue workers then carried the dolphins on poles on their shoulders to a waiting helicopter – which flew the mammals to safety in the southern province of Cienfuegos.

The dolphins were put in a swimming pool in a special aquarium where keepers said the habitat gave “similar conditions to their natural life”

But Dolphinarium manager Gonzalo Carrero Escobar said: “If the weather situation does not allow us to keep them there, they will be displaced to the saltwater swimming pool of a hotel.”

It came hours before Hurricane Irma ripped across the north of Cuba, with winds of up to 160 mph battering areas including Camaguey Archipelago.

Television footage showed huge waves crashing over sea walls and power lines downed as the deadly storm swept past. It is the latest episode in a trail of devastation that Irma has left after pummeling through the Caribbean, leaving 21 dead in its wake.

cuba-dolphins-3.jpg                                           The mammals during their transit (Agencia Cubana de Noticias/Facebook)

Millions fled from Florida in the past two days as the Category 5 storm is set to batter the southern coast of the state today.

Categories: News

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