Mass Dolphin Stranding - Releasing After Dark

Hi all,

As you probably already know from the extensive media coverage, dolphins are still stranding along Cape Cod shores. We continue to support our colleagues at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in their efforts to save as many dolphins as possible.

It is important to note that we are not able to blog about the event in real time because we are too busy responding. In that light we will be blogging about our experience in this massive rescue effort but it will not be in real time.

Below the sun sets over the harbor as teams continue to respond to live dolphin reports.

Photo by Terry Rogers

In the Photo below the IFAW rescue boat heads back to the dock after herding several dolphins out of the bay. While this was taking place more dolphins were stranding at another location on the Cape. Teams were dispatched to that location for rescue and release of those animals.

Photo by Terry Rogers

We generally do not initiate response after dark however if we are in the middle of a rescue effort and it is safe to continue we will do so. The safety of our rescuers is our main priority. IFAW and NEAq staff and volunteers train together to ensure our safety protocols are clearly understood and followed. My favorite line when I'm training safety is: "Everyone is a safety officer" - so true.

In the photo below Brian Sharp, IFAW stranding coordinator prepares to put on his safety vest while the other rescue staff keep an eye on the dolphin in the cart. Reflective vests are just one of the many personal protection equipment (PPE) required for responding in low light or after dark.

Photo by Terry Rogers

In the photo below the team prepares to bring another dolphin down the the beach. A pre-release site is set up on the beach with a foam pad for each dolphin. This keeps them comfortable until all the animals are lined up on the beach so they can all be released together.

Photo by Terry Rogers

In the photo below on the left the team lifts the dolphin off the foam pad for the walk into deeper water for the release. In the photo on the right you can see the foam pad as the team walks away. You can also see another team in the background.

Photos by Terry Rogers

Those of you concerned about ocean trash do not worry, the foam pads are collected by volunteers so they do not float away. Each dolphin team has a team leader and while not visible in this photo, there is also a safety officer or multiple safety officers on the beach to track each member of each team.

Below the team walks toward the ultimate goal - releasing. I love this photo, cool reflection of the Aquarium's green safety vests on the water.

Photo by Terry Rogers

We will continue to blog about this event as time allows. I know Kerry has some photos and stories about her time on a special little island she was stationed on during this event. I also collected some great photos during one of our recent herding events. I'll try to put those up in a few days.

The ultimate goal is to prevent pain and suffering and to save as many dolphins as possible. In many cases though these animals wash up dead. When that happens we do collected life history information so we can learn. You should be prepared that we may be posting some photos of deceased dolphins so you can see the types of data we collect and how that helps us in science and with future stranding events.


Learn more about this season's dolphin stranding rescue efforts here.

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