Nearly 60 dolphins strand on Cape Cod

Nearly 60 dolphins strand on Cape Cod
Tuesday, 17 January, 2012
Yarmouth Port, MA

In a massive rescue effort, IFAW’s (International Fund for Animal Welfare - Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Team has been able to rescue and release 19 of the 27 Common dolphins that stranded alive on Cape Cod shores during the past few days including a dolphin calf and a pregnant mother. Approximately 32 additional animals stranded, but were found dead most likely due to injuries sustained from stranding.

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and this is only the second season I’ve seen it like this,” said Katie Moore IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Manager. “These types of lingering mass strandings seem to be unique to our area.”

“No one knows for sure why animals strand, but mass strandings of whales and dolphins have happened on Cape Cod for hundreds of years,” said Moore. “The topography of the Cape is likely a factor, with its hook-like shape, gently sloping beaches and extensive sand and mud flats. Animals may become disoriented and trapped by the complex inlets. Dolphins are also very social animals and stick together for better or worse,” said Moore.

One dolphin stranded in Wellfleet on Thursday afternoon kicking off a series of additional strandings straight through Monday. Approximately 40 dolphins stranded on Saturday alone in five towns from Dennis to Wellfleet. A response of this scale would not be possible without the help of dozens of trained volunteers in addition to IFAW staff.

“The scale of this mass stranding is unique. We've responded to dolphins along 25 miles of coastline during the past few days,” said Brian Sharp IFAW Stranding Coordinator. “We were able to affix satellite tags to the dorsal fins of five rescued dolphins, which will allow us to find out how they’re doing after release. We're hoping to see that the location coordinates are grouped together, which will show that they've rejoined a pod.”

Along with sites in Australia and New Zealand, Cape Cod is one of the top three stranding hotspots in the world. Mass strandings of multiple marine mammals often occur in this area between January and April. If you see a live or dead stranded marine mammal south of Plymouth through Rhode Island, please report it to the IFAW emergency hotline at 508-743-9548. 

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. News photos available at

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy