Stranded Marine Mammal Rescue and Research - GlobalWhen the tide is low, the stakes are high for marine mammals
(Cape Cod, MA – July 26, 2021) -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released five common dolphins off Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown earlier today. The dolphins stranded in two separate locations and were transported to deeper waters where they could be released as a pod for the greatest chance of survival.
The first call to IFAW’s Stranding Hotline came in before 7:00 AM, alerting the Marine Mammal Rescue & Research team to a mother and calf stranded off Ellis Landing in Brewster. The calf, a young dependent male, died of unknown causes before IFAW staff arrived on scene.
Soon after, IFAW received a report of seven dolphins in the shallow flats off Lieutenant Island in Wellfleet. One animal died before staff was on scene, and two others swam off as the tide came in.
All five remaining dolphins from Brewster and Wellfleet were transported via IFAW’s custom-built mobile response vehicle to Provincetown, where beaches provide quick access to deep water and open ocean. While on the road—in a vehicle capable of transporting up to nine common dolphins at a time—IFAW veterinarians and biologists monitored the animals’ health, administered fluids and checked for signs of illness or distress.
Extreme low tide levels may have played a role, given this week’s full moon. The two incidents may have been connected, given the timing and close proximity to their stranding locations. It is difficult to say if something about the two deaths contributed to the stranding event overall.
“Summer strandings are not as common here off Cape Cod, but we have been seeing more and more over the past few years,” says IFAW’s stranding coordinator, Misty Niemeyer. “The timing brings some added challenge with heat and summer crowds, but our team was able to work through it and get the dolphins back out to their ocean home with the help of several agencies we work so closely with.”
The Brewster Department of Natural Resources provided onsite staff support of the dolphin stranded in Brewster. In Wellfleet, the Harbormaster has a boat in the water helping to locate the two additional dolphins. The US National Park Service was a tremendous help clearing space for release on a busy day at Herring Cove.
Responders are monitoring the area over the next 24 hours. In addition, satellite tracking will assist in post-release monitoring of the one dolphin that appeared stressed by the stranding event.
For marine mammal strandings please use the following hotlines: