Pod of Dolphins Trapped by Ice Freed in Community Effort Led by Excavator

A local heavy machine operator drove his excavator into the wharf to break up some of the ice.

It was a community effort led by an excavator to free a pod dolphins trapped by ice in a Canadian harbor.

Locals started noticing a group of six to eight dolphins lingering around a shallow harbor in Heart’s Delight, Newfoundland, Sunday.

Coast guards had attempted to break them free from the ice Wednesday, but they were unable to get close enough to the dolphins since the water was too shallow.

By Thursday morning, it became clear the pod was trapped in the harbor, and the wall of sea ice that appeared to be closing in on the dolphins more and more every day.

That’s when Stanley Legge, a local fire chief and heavy equipment owner, decided to take matters into his own hands.

He drove his construction excavator down to the wharf and used the machinery to dig around the ice that was trapping the dolphins, thanks to a friend’s wife, who suggested the idea.

"We had the boys there swiping the ice and pushing it around the head of the wharf there, trying to break out some of the ice," he told CBC News.

Inspired by his actions, locals boaters pitched in, driving speedboats through thick ice to break it apart. People with smaller fishing boats got as close as they could and attempted to break the ice by hand using shovels.

"Everybody has come out here until dark at night keeping an eye on them, hoping they're going to get safely back out," said local fisherman Charles Sooley. "I just had a lady come down now and she wanted to know if we wanted sandwiches made."

Later that afternoon, the dolphins broke free.

The crowd watching over the mammals erupted into cheers as they watched the pod dive into the open ocean.

"It's a mission accomplished," Legge said. "I guess we done something good today for the environment and I guess it give a lot of people a lot of peace of mind that the dolphins got away freely."