Rescued Dolphins go high-tech!


This section of the post was filed by Katie Moore, the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Marine Mammal Rescue and Research (MMRR) team Manager.

Sometimes, the hardest days really do turn out to be the most rewarding! Winter is our busiest stranding season and this day tested our stamina. Our first stranding hotline call came mid morning- four dolphins stranded in Wellfleet. One common dolphin was found in Chipman’s Cove. The other three were on Mayo beach, one of which had died before being found.

The MMRR team responded rapidly to assess the live animals and provide supportive care and medical treatment. It was phenomenal to realize that all three of these dolphins were fit for release. Our team members and dedicated volunteers cared for these animals throughout transport to a safe release location at the tip of Cape Cod where they could be released into open water. Through driving wind and alternating rain and sleet, we arrived in at Herring Cove in Provincetown.

As we were preparing to release these three animals (one fitted with a satellite tracking tag), we received two more calls- one dolphin stranded in Truro and three more at another location in Wellfleet. Although it was hard, we had to focus on the three animals in hand. While the other staff members and volunteers released these animals, I frantically made phone calls to find more volunteers to respond to the new dolphins. (I am constantly amazed by our volunteers who venture out in terrible weather to provide care while we’re en route).


Comments: 3

7 years ago

From what I understand, it is believed that there is usually maybe just a couple of ill animals that beach themselves and they call out for help and the rest of the pod rushes their death. What rescuers need is time to find the sick ones, isolate them, and return the well ones to the ocean.
Here is my idea: You'll need a refuse type pump to quickly move the volume of water you'll need. A cylinder of compressed gas, like CO2. We have these portable swimming pools over here where the ring is inflated and then the pool is filled with water. As the pool fills, the ring rises. You could position a deflated pool next to a dolphin, lube the edge of the pool and slide the dolphin in. With the compressed gas you'd quickly fill the top ring of the pool. With the pump you could fill the pool with enough water to give the dolphin buoyancy so that it can breathe. Now a vet could have time to examine the animal. When the tide comes in you could then release the healthy animals. The sick ones would have to be put down or taken to a facility so that they wouldn't call the healthy ones back in. In an old episode of Jacque Costeau they captured a dolphin that was "surfing" off the bow of the ship and kept if for a few days in a floating pen made up of netting.
While the kids pools would work if you were going to wait for high tide, if you could get some used Zodiac type inflatable boats to use instead of the pools you'd have something sea worthy that you could tow the dolphins back out to sea with. I would imagine that military surplus would be a good source for the Zodiacs. .....
How I would imagine this set up working is that the Zodiacs/pools and air tank could be air dropped in the area for first responders to set up. You could probably even air drop the pump set up to the beaching. If you fitted the pump with a small single cylinder diesel engine it could run for hours with very little fuel. Or if you could get a fire truck/pumper truck to respond to the beach you could really get set up quickly
If your Coast Guard or Navy could air drop the supplies you could set up so quick and save many dolphins' lives.
What do you think???

8 years ago

What an awesome job you guys did in Wellfleet. The people and volunteers that worked through the mud and cold to save our marine "friends" are my heroes.
Mark Gaulin
Lunenburg, MA

8 years ago

It feels good to know there are still people who really care to the animals. May God Bless you and may you continue to help those beautiful creatures.

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