TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - A baby dolphin has been rescued in Japan after being dumped in a rice field by a giant tsunami that hit the coast on March 11.
The dolphin was spotted in the flooded field, about 2 km (a mile) from the coast, said Ryo Taira, a pet-shop owner who has been rescuing animals abandoned after the 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami left 23,000 people dead or missing.
"A man passing by said he had found the dolphin in the rice paddy and that we had to do something to save it," the 32-year-old Taira told Reuters.
Taira found the dolphin struggling in the shallow seawater on Tuesday and after failing to net it, waded in to the field, which had yet to be sown with rice, to cradle the 1.2-meter (four foot) animal in his arms.
"It was pretty weak by then, which was probably the only reason we could catch it," he said.
Taira and some friends wrapped the dolphin in wet towels and drove it back to the sea, where they set it free. The dolphin appeared to perk up when it was back in the Pacific, he said.
"I don't know if it will live, but it's certainly a lot better than dying in a rice paddy," Taira told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Robert Birsel and Sanjeev Miglani