A dolphin stuck on a muddy beach in southern China has been saved after a group of fishermen teamed up to free it.
The aquatic mammal reportedly kept swimming back towards the shore after being released back to the sea - in an apparent effort to thank the Good Samaritans.
The villagers only left the seaside after the dolphin disappeared over the horizon without returning hours later, rescuers told local journalists.
The dolphin was found stranded on a beach of the Xili Bay in the city of Qinzhou, Guangxi Province, yesterday afternoon by passing fishermen, according to various local reports
The dolphin was found stranded on a beach of the Xili Bay outside the city of Qinzhou, Guangxi Province, at around 2pm yesterday.
According to state-run Nanguo Morning Post, the trapped dolphin was first spotted by passing fishermen who immediately called the coast guard at the village of Xiniujiao.
The authority enlisted the help from a local animal biologist who sent his team to the site to instruct on the rescue efforts.
One of the rescuers told video news site Pear that the dolphin had likely been trapped for about 10 minutes when it was discovered.
Footage shows the locals digging away the mud around the dolphin and pouring water over it frequently to keep it alive.
One of the rescuers told video news site Pear that the dolphin had likely been trapped for about 10 minutes when it was discovered. Experts believe it was a common bottlenose dolphin
The rescued mammal kept swimming back towards the shore to show its affection towards its saviours, according to China News. It eventually swam away and didn't return at 6:30pm
After professional rescuers arrived with tools and a net, the villagers joined forces to lift the dolphin onto the net. The villagers and rescuers then carried the dolphin into the sea together.
The dolphin was 2.2 metres (seven feet 2.6 inches) long and weighed about 110 kilograms (242 pounds), reported China News.
According to the outlet, the animal was reluctant to return to the sea initially. The mammal was said to keep swimming back towards the shore to show its affection towards its saviours.
Common bottlenose dolphins (seen in a file photo) are known to be intelligent and charismatic
Professor Wu Haiping from the Ocean College of Northern Bay University told China News that the dolphin was likely a common bottlenose dolphin.
With an iconic curved mouth, common bottlenose dolphins are known for their intelligence and charisma. They can be found in offshore and coastal waters throughout the world.
Experts are yet to determine what led the dolphin to get stranded on the beach.