Over 100 Dolphins Saved from Historic Mass Stranding in Cape Cod

Around 125 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were found stranded and swimming in shallow waters along the Herring River on June 28

<p>IFAW</p> Over 100 Dolphins Saved from Historic Mass Stranding in Cape Cod


Over 100 Dolphins Saved from Historic Mass Stranding in Cape Cod

Rescuers in Cape Cod helped more than 100 dolphins escape from a mass stranding, which wildlife organizations have called the largest Cape Cod stranding incident in decades.

On Friday, June 28, bystanders reported that around 10 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were stuck in muddy, shallow waters of the Herring River at a beach known as Great Island in Wellfleet, Mass., according to local outlet WCVB.

However, when officials from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) arrived on the scene that morning, they discovered around 125 dolphins stranded in the area, the organization said in a press release.

According to IFAW, this marked the largest mass stranding in the organization's 26 years of working on Cape Cod. Ten of the dolphins had died by the time rescuers arrived at the beach, the group said.

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<p>IFAW</p> Rescuers work to push dolphins out to deeper waters.


Rescuers work to push dolphins out to deeper waters.

"We arrived to what appeared to be 80 to 100 dolphins on the shallow mud flats of Wellfleet's Herring River 'Gut' – a global epicenter for mass strandings," IFAW stranding coordinator Misty Niemeyer said in the press release. "We were able to provide supportive care, help those that were struggling, and keep them comfortable and ready for the incoming tide."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that this dolphin species is on the smaller side, measuring about 8 to 9 feet long and weighing 360 to 505 pounds. These animals can become stranded if they are disoriented, which can be caused by underwater noise pollution, NOAA says.

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<p>IFAW</p> Over 100 Dolphins Saved from Historic Mass Stranding in Cape Cod


Over 100 Dolphins Saved from Historic Mass Stranding in Cape Cod

According to IFAW, rescuers first entered the water on foot to encourage the dolphins to move into deeper waters. When high tide arrived around 5 p.m., workers switched to using boats.

Alongside IFAW, rescue groups working to save the dolphins included AmeriCorps of Cape Cod, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the New England Aquarium, the Center for Coastal Studies, and the Wellfleet Harbormaster.

"This rescue had many challenges due to the number of dolphins, the large size of many of the animals, how spread out they were over a large area, the difficult mud conditions, and the complicated locations from which we could reach them," Niemeyer added in the press release.

IFAW stated that by sunset on Friday, most of the dolphins had returned to deeper water. On Saturday, June 29, only 10 dolphins remained in the shallow water, and they made their way out of the area later that day.

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"It was a 12-hour exhausting response in the unrelenting sun, but the team was able to overcome the various challenges and give the dolphins their best chance at survival," Niemeyer concluded.

Also, on Saturday, just a few miles away in Eastham, Mass., IFAW located 25 more dolphins swimming in shallow waters. Eventually, all of those dolphins made their way back to deeper waters, IFAW added.

The NOAA states that anyone who spots a sick, injured, entangled, stranded, or dead marine mammal or sea turtle should report it as soon as possible to the appropriate authority, which can be found on the organization's website.

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