When rescuers with the International Fund for Animal Welfare responded to the first reported strandings of dolphins in Wellfleet of the year, they were in for a surprise.
One of the animals in need of help was pregnant.
“Given a clean bill of health [and] quickly released, she left us with this touching image of the next generation of cetaceans,” the agency’s Marine Mammal Rescue team wrote on Twitter, sharing photos of the expectant mother.
We had a heartwarming surprise during our first marine mammal stranding response of 2020–this dolphin turned out to be pregnant!
— ifaw (@action4ifaw) January 21, 2020
The rescue took place on Jan. 13, according to the Cape Cod Times, when the IFAW was notified by the Wellfleet harbormaster around 9 a.m. that three or four dolphins were stranded in the water behind the town pier. Rescuers found two dolphins swimming in the area and herded them to deeper water.
They were then notified that another animal was seen swimming behind the pier, headed up the nearby creek, where it stranded in a shallow area.
“At that point we decided to extract her from that area to do a good health assessment,” Nicole Hunter, assistant necropsy coordinator at IFAW, told the newspaper.
It was during the assessment that they determined the dolphin was pregnant, according to the Times. She was released off Provincetown.
Dolphins strand along the shores of Cape Cod more than anywhere else in the world, according to the IFAW, and in 2019, the rescue team saw the “most active period of marine mammal rescue ever.”