Emily to the Rescue

Emily to the Rescue!

Emily looked around for her dad. Where was he? She had no idea how long Coral had been caught in the net. She was just about to swim to the surface to try and find Danny when she saw two figures in wetsuits swimming towards her. It was her mum and Jess!

Emily to the Rescue!

Emily couldn’t shout because of her snorkel, so she waved at them frantically. Puzzled, they swam over to her.

Emily didn’t want to waste time explaining -she would have to swim up to the surface and take her mask off-so instead she tugged her mum’s arm and gestured round the rock. To her relief, her mum realized straight that something was badly wrong. She and Jess followed Emily to where the

Away dolphin was trapped. Coral was still caught up in the net, but her movements were slowing down, as if she was running out of energy. She flapped her tail feebly and then rolled from side to side. She was obviously very distressed.

Even through the masks, Emily could see the shock on her mum and Jess’s faces. They swam over, but they weren’t sure what to do, and Emily could feel the precious seconds slipping away. Maybe she could help by fetching Danny? She quickly swam up to the surface and saw her dad leaning over the side of the boat, chatting to Danny.

Her heart sank. They were a long way away. Starting to panic, Emily looked around and saw the fishing boat from the day before. Vincent was standing on deck with a couple of other fishermen. It was their net that Coral was trapped in! “Hola!” she shouted. “Hola!” She wished she knew the Spanish for help, but she didn’t, so she just waved frantically as she trod water. “Over here! Please!” she cried, hoping he would understand.

Vincent frowned and shaded his eyes from the sun. “What is it, chica?” he called. “Are you in trouble?”

Out of the corner of her eye Emily could see her dad and Danny had heard her shout too. Dad was climbing back into the boat and Danny was starting the engine, but Emily couldn’t wait for them to arrive.

“I need your help!” she shouted to Vincent. She remembered the word for dolphin. “El delfin! It’s caught in your net and needs to be set free.”

Vincent’s weather-beaten face instantly creased into a frown. He said something to the other fishermen in rapid Spanish as he ran over to the side of the boat and began to release the net.

Emily bobbed underneath the surface and motioned for her mum and Jess to move out of the way as one side of the net was released. It fell slowly through the water, allowing Coral to escape. At last she was free. But Emily could see at once that she was very weak. Mrs Oliver and Jess took her grey body in their arms and kicked up towards the surface. Emily followed behind.

“What’s going on?” demanded Emily’s dad. He and Danny had reached them now and stopped the motor boat.

“It’s Coral!” gasped Emily. “She was caught in Vincent’s net!” She stared at the little dolphin in her mum’s arms. “Is she … is she dead?”

“No, she’s still alive,” said Mrs Oliver as she and Jess trod water and held the dolphin up so she could breathe again.

Danny got into the water and checked Coral’s heart. She gave a feeble flick of her tail and raised her head slightly.

“Is she going to be OK?” Emily’s chest felt tight with worry.

“Yes, I think she’s going to be fine,” Danny said- to her relief. “She’s had a bit of a scare, but she seems all right and her heartbeat is already returning to normal. Luckily she’s young and strong.”

Coral’s eyes already looked a little brighter. “You can stroke her,” Danny told Emily. “I know I said not to touch her yesterday, but this is a different situation. I think she’ll enjoy being touched. It may help her recover from the shock.” Emily stroked Coral’s smooth head. At first the little dolphin’s eyes were hazy, but then they seemed to focus on Emily.

“You’re going to be all right,” Emily whispered. She remembered their conversation the day before and made a soft whistling sound.

Coral opened her mouth and gave a squeak.

Emily copied her. Coral’s eyes grew brighter and she squeaked again, this time adding a whistle. Vincent was watching closely and talking to the other fishermen, gesturing at the dolphin and Emily.

“So, what happened?” Emily’s dad asked. Emily explained how she had found the dolphin and gone looking for help.

“She’s been very lucky,” Danny said. Another few minutes and I think she would have run out of air.”

Mrs Oliver squeezed Emily’s arm. “Well done, Em. It was good thinking to ask Vincent for help. If he hadn’t released the net, we wouldn’t have been able to free her.”

Coral pushed Emily with her nose and Emily kissed her head. “I’m just glad we were snorkelling here.”

“The question is what we do now,” said Danny. “She’ll find it very hard to manage on her own without her mother. She needs to be with her pod.”

“I think we have to let her take her chances,” said Jess, “and hope she finds her pod again.”

“You’re right,” Danny agreed. “Let’s see if she’ll swim away.”

Mrs Oliver and Jess gently released Coral in the water, and they all retreated a little to give her some space.

For a moment Coral didn’t seem to know what to do. She swam in small circles, making lots of clicking sounds.

“Go on,” said Mrs Oliver, pushing her gently. “Find your pod.”

Coral swam a little way off, still clicking. “She’s going!” said Mr Oliver hopefully. But, on finding no other dolphins, Coral seemed to lose heart. She flipped herself round and headed back towards the humans, preferring their company to the empty sea. She swam over to Emily and nudged her head against her.

Emily stroked her. “You can’t stay with us,” she said as Coral whistled at her. “You have to go.”

But Coral didn’t want to.

Jess looked anxiously at Danny. “What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe we should call a dolphin rescue centre. They can take her in and try and release her into the wild when she’s older.”

“But if they can’t, does that mean she’ll live in captivity for the rest of her life?” asked Emily.

Danny nodded.

“No,” she said quickly. She hated the thought of Coral becoming like the dolphins she’d seen in the marine park in Florida. She wanted her to live here in the sea where she belonged. She gave Coral a push, but Coral thought she was just playing, and bumped Emily’s arm with her nose.

“Go on!” Emily told her.

The fishermen had been watching everything closely. “El babe delfin?” called

Vincent. “She will not go?”

Emily couldn’t stop herself. She was so worried about Coral. “If you fished with other nets, things like this wouldn’t happen!” she exclaimed. “Coral could have drowned, and now, even though she’s free, she’s lost her mother and the rest of her pod.”

The fishermen turned and murmured to each other.

“You should listen to Danny! If you don’t, other dolphins are going to die or be injured. Please!” Emily begged them. “Please stop using the nets! Coral would be dead now if we hadn’t come along. As it is, she might end up living in captivity.” Tears stung her eyes and she turned away, not wanting people to see her cry.

There was a moment’s silence. Emily felt her mum gently squeeze her arm in support. But suddenly there was a shout from the fishing boat. “El delfin!”

Emily looked up. Vincent was pointing out to sea. She followed his gaze and saw a dolphin coming towards them. She was leaping over the waves, her grey body arcing above the water as she dived and jumped, dived and jumped. She surfaced a little from the boat and looked out of the water anxiously. She whistled – and Coral whistled back in delight way.

“It’s Cowrie, Coral’s mother!” exclaimed Danny.

“She must have been looking for Coral and heard her clicks through the water,” said Jess.

“Of course, she’d have been using echolocation!” said Mr Oliver.

Coral looked at Emily. As their gazes met, Emily felt a deep, strong connection. It was almost as though she and the baby dolphin could see into each other’s minds. Warmth flowed through her. “Go on,” she whispered, touching the dolphin’s smooth side. “Go!”

With a joyful whistle, Coral dived under the water and swam towards her mother. Emily held onto the side of the boat and watched as Cowrie whooshed through the sea to meet her baby. They stopped and touched noses, their dark eyes shining with delight. Coral squeaked and clicked, as if telling her mum all about her adventures. Emily felt a lump in her throat. The two dolphins looked so pleased to be reunited. Emily felt her mum put an arm lightly around her shoulders. “A happy ending,” Mrs Oliver said softly.

Emily nodded. It was for Coral, but what about all the other wild dolphins out there in the sea? Would they be so lucky? She turned to look at the fishermen. They were watching the dolphins with big smiles on their faces. Vincent was nodding slowly to himself. He caught sight of Emily’s eyes on him.

“We change!” he announced to her. He pointed at Coral and Cowrie. “For them.” Then he pointed at Emily.

“And for la chica valiente!” He shook his head. “Big nets? No! No more! That is what I say!” He turned to Danny. “Meet me this evening, amigo. We talk, and you tell us again how to fish to keep los delfines safe. I, Vincent, will make sure everyone is there and that everyone listens.” He raised his hand to them. “Adios! Hasta luego!”

“Adios!” everyone called as he started his boat and chugged away.

Emily watched him go, feeling like she was going to burst with happiness.

“I can’t believe it,” said Danny, in astonishment. “I’ve been trying to persuade Vincent to change his ways for ages, and now a ten-year-old comes along and he agrees!”

Mr Oliver chuckled. “Emily has that effect on people. La chica valiente,” he repeated. “That means ‘the brave girl”.

He smiled warmly at Emily. “I think he’s right.”

Emily blushed. “It wasn’t just me – it was Coral and Cowrie who changed his mind too.”

“Whatever changed his mind, I’m delighted,” said Jess. “It’ll make the seas a lot safer for the wild dolphins and turtles around here.”

Mrs Oliver hugged Emily. “Well done, Em.” She nodded out to sea. “And see Coral and Cowrie … Don’t they look happy?”

They all turned to where Coral and Cowrie were whisking through the water, playing a game of tag.

“They look very happy,” Emily agreed with a smile. She climbed into the boat, and then she and her dad and Danny helped Mrs Oliver and Jess take off their scuba tanks and get in. The boat rocked gently in the water.

Out at sea, Cowrie and Coral began to head away to find their pod. As they built up speed, they leaped out of the water together, side by side, their wet bodies sparkling in the sun. They skimmed over the surface and dived back in. Emily leaned her head against her dad’s shoulder.

“Are you happy now too?” he said to her. “Oh yes,” she whispered.

Coral was finally back where she belonged, safe with her mother, swimming wild and safe in the blue Caribbean Sea.

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