Seven dolphins wash up at low tide in Wellfleet on Wednesday
WELL FLOATS – Following initial calls to its strandings hotline and the threat of an outgoing tide, local experts from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) deployed this morning to rescue seven dolphins Atlantic white-sided in Wellfleet, MA.
Thanks to a strong local community and IFAW’s vast network of volunteers, the first photos taken at 7:00 a.m. suggested that at least three dolphins were stranded in the shallow bowels of the Herring River. Wellfleet is a common location for mass stranding events due to its hook shape in the Cape Cod shoreline hook and due to the large tidal fluctuations in Cape Cod Bay.
Responders arrived on site just before 8:00 a.m., which also marked morning low tide in Wellfleet. In total, more than 40 employees, interns, AmeriCorps members and trained volunteers were on site. The National Park Service also helped manage crowds and event logistics.
“When we arrived, the first thing we had to do was coordinate the best way to access the dolphins and get our equipment to their difficult location,” said Misty Niemeyer, animal rescue manager for the Rescue Team and IFAW Marine Mammal Research. “The dolphins looked alert and healthy, but the day was sure to be sunny and warm and we needed to move quickly.”
Niemeyer added that the tide was beginning to rise. “Our team has had to deal with the increased difficulty of rising waters, but we know from experience that it is not an option to leave dolphins in this area, as they are often caught in a repetitive cycle of tides. and stranding.
The IFAW team used cooling blankets on dolphins which, when soaked in water, work to maintain a healthy body temperature for animals (such as horses) in hot weather.
The seven dolphins were transported to a release site deeper off Provincetown, traveling in IFAW’s mobile dolphin rescue clinic. This one-of-a-kind vehicle was custom designed to meet the needs of what is considered a global stranding hotspot on Cape Cod. The vehicle, thanks to the generosity of donors, allows IFAW experts and veterinarians to treat up to nine dolphins at one time for dehydration and shock caused by stranding.
“Today’s rescue and release went as smoothly as we could have hoped, thanks to the incredible support of our volunteer responders from IFAW, AmeriCorps Cape Cod and this local community,” Niemeyer said. . “The largest and last dolphin released seemed a bit stressed, and we fitted this dolphin with a temporary satellite tag to monitor its success. We released the dolphins in three rounds, and eventually all of them swam hard into deeper water. We are optimistic about their journey ahead.
At around 6 to 8 feet (183 to 244 cm) in length – the largest weighing around 250 pounds (113 kg) – today’s stranded dolphins were most likely all subadult males. This pattern has previously been observed in Atlantic white-sided dolphins, with younger males traveling separately from females and calves. Atlantic white-sided dolphins can be unpredictable about what time of year they go stranded.
The seven dolphins were released off Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown in a staggered release (three, two and two dolphins) from 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Wednesday. IFAW will monitor the pod’s progress via a dolphin’s satellite beacon in the coming days.
Photos by IFAW/CWN