Dolphins rescued by IFAW sighted at sea

Friday, 19 March, 2010
Yarmouth Port, Mass.
Rescuers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW – Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team have confirmed that at least four of the nine Atlantic white-sided dolphins released last week are surviving at sea.

The dolphins were sighted and photographed yesterday during a joint survey between IFAW and the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. The tagged dolphins, located using satellite and VHF telemetry, were found in a group of approximately 200 Atlantic white-sided dolphins on the southern edge of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.  

The animals were all swimming strongly and were exhibiting longer dives, indicating a feeding behavior. The area where they were sighted is a hotspot for other marine animals as well, with large numbers of whales and seabirds observed in close proximity to the dolphins.  

This news is especially valuable due to the fact that one of the four dolphins found in this group had been released by himself. Under current policy, a dolphin or whale that strands alone is euthanized, regardless of how healthy it may be. This federal policy assumes that an individual dolphin from a social species returned to the ocean, without the protection of a pod, has a poor chance of survival. IFAW is challenging that assumption and has received Federal Authorization to release and study the survival rate of healthy single animals.

These ground-breaking observations clearly disprove that assumption and have the potential to change policy for stranded dolphins around the nation.       

“These results, suggest that healthy single stranded dolphins are in fact capable of finding a social group if released alone,” said Katie Moore, IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Program Manager. “This gives new hope for stranded dolphins not only on Cape Cod, but around the globe. We will continue to monitor the satellite tag locations of these dolphins and look for the next good weather window to get back out on the water”.

The dolphins spotted during the survey cruise were 4 of 16 Atlantic white-sided dolphins that were trapped in the mud flats off Wellfleet, Massachusetts last week. Rescuers from IFAW rushed to the scene and were able to rescue nine dolphins and return them to the sea. All nine were in good health upon release.

“Stranded” or “beached” refers to the condition where any marine mammal (seal, dolphin, porpoise, or whale) is found dead on shore or found on shore unable to return to the water without assistance.

In the last 10 years, IFAW has handled over 900 live animals. Thanks to improved medical examinations and supportive care, survivor rates of mass stranded dolphins and whales have increased from 14% in 2004 to more than 50% in 2009.

IFAW Appeal for funds to replace satellite tags

The IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue is asking for public donations to purchase replacement satellite tags and continue their research. Each tag costs $2,000 and at least two are needed. They are also hoping to raise $14,000 to purchase specialized equipment to save more animals from deep mud.

Information and donations may be made by:
Telephone: (800) 932-4329
Mail: IFAW Marine Rescue, 290 Summer Street, Yarmouthport, MA 02675

Post a comment

Press Contact

Chris Cutter (IFAW- Headquarters)
Contact phone:
(1) 508-744-2066
Contact email: