Animal rescuers on Cape Cod had a busy start to the new year after two common dolphins were found stranded Wednesday off Wellfleet. One dolphin later swam out to sea, while the other died.
A volunteer for International Fund for Animal Welfare called the group’s Yarmouth Port office at noon to report a dolphin had washed up on Great Island beach, said Jane Hoppe, stranding coordinator for the fund. The volunteer and a few passersby stayed with the dolphin until staff members reached the area nearly an hour later.
“These people were fantastic,” Hoppe said today. “They were able to keep away scavengers.”
Hoppe, along with another staff member from the fund, placed the 6-foot-long, 150-pound male dolphin in a temperature-controlled trailer. There, they were able to check the animal’s condition and run blood tests, Hoppe said.
At 1:30 p.m., the fund received a report of another stranded dolphin on Great Island, this one at Tavern Point. This area is more difficult to reach, Hoppe said, so she enlisted the help of the National Park Service.
Responders from the park service rescued the 173-pound male dolphin, and International Fund for Animal Welfare employees tested his vitals. Both dolphins were found in good physical condition, Hoppe said.
At 7 p.m., a group of nine employees and volunteers traveled to Race Point Beach in Provincetown to release to the dolphins. Hoppe said the location was chosen because of its steady tides and deep water access.
The dolphin first rescued swam toward the Cape Cod Bay, where it is now being monitored with a tracking device in its dorsal fin. The second rescued mammal turned around once released, washed back to the shore, and died a minute later, said Hoppe.
“It was very unfortunate,” she said.
Hoppe said she is not sure why the dolphin died. But a necropsy was planned to identify a cause.
According to Hoppe, most of her team’s over 200 rescued animals per year occur in Wellfleet. She said this is because of the areas rapidly changing tides.
“It leaves animals disoriented,” she said.