46 Pilot Whales Rescued by IFAW and the Cape Cod Stranding Network

Monday, 29 July, 2002
Cape Cod, MA
55 pilot whales stranded his morning off Dennis, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod triggering an immediate response from the Cape Cod Stranding Network and its co-founding organization the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org).
The stranded whales were discovered at six o’clock in the morning as low tide was approaching on the North side of Cape Cod. Member organizations of the Cape Cod Stranding Network immediately responded to the situation. More than 100 volunteers worked for hours pouring water over the animals and covering them in wet towels to keep them cool during the near record heat. 46 of the whales were ultimately returned to the water. Nine whales died during the stranding. One whale was euthanized by the response team after it began showing signs of severe stress.

“We knew we had to do whatever we could to keep these animals alive till the tide came back in,” said A.J. Cady, leader of the IFAW response team. “The fact that so many of them were saved is testament to the unified response of the members of the Cape Cod Stranding Network and the local community,” he said. “Everyone helped out. Tourists and passersby on the beach stopped to lend a hand. Local merchants donated food and water to the volunteers. It was a terrific community effort with everyone pitching in -- and it worked,” Cady said.

Rescuers are hopeful these animals will safely return to the sea and not strand again. Members of the Cape Cod Stranding Network will continue to watch the coast into the evening and at first light tomorrow morning.

Today’s stranding was one of the most dramatic in recent years and the largest stranding of pilot whales on Cape Cod in more than a decade. Pilot whales have extensive family structures and swim in groups, called pods, of 5 to 100 animals. They are still being hunted in some countries and little is known about the current total population of pilot whales worldwide.

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Christopher Bailey (IFAW, Headquarters)
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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation