Porpoise left by tsunami in rice paddy back to sea

The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 5:12 AM

SENDAI, Japan -- Rescuers have returned a stranded baby porpoise to the sea after it was found splashing in an inland rice paddy where it was heaved earlier this month by Japan's massive tsunami.

A passer-by spotted the 3-foot-long (meter-long) finless porpoise Tuesday just over a mile (2 kilometers) from shore, and more than a week after the March 11 disaster, Takashi Wagatsuma said. The pet shop owner was among animal rescuers who rushed to return the creature to the sea.

"He had a few scratches but seems otherwise okay," Wagatsuma said in the coastal city of Sendai.

Finless porpoises, which lack a dorsal fin, can grow to be about 1.6 meters (about 5 feet) long. They are native to much of coastal Asia.

Sendai, 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Tokyo, was among many communities that suffered massive damage when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck, wrecking entire communities.

Wagatsuma's Dogwood pet shop in Sendai has become a collecting point for strays and pets whose owners have lost their homes in the disaster and are unable to bring the animals with them to shelters.

"Sometimes people come to look for their pets and there have been a few who found them, but it's mostly people asking us to help out because they can't bring their pets with them," Wagatsuma said.

© 2011 The Associated Press