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article imageMore than hundred dolphins beached in Cape Cod baffle scientists

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 5, 2012 in Environment
Animal rescuers are working to save more than a hundred common dolphins beached off Cape Cod, Mass., since January 12. Marine scientists have been unable to explain the recent pattern of dolphins being washed ashore.
The recent beachings have been described as the largest single-species stranding ever in that part of the U.S.
According to Daily Mail, of 116 common dolphins that beached on Cape Cod since January 12, three died on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths to 84. CNN reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had reported that 81 dolphins died at Cape Cod in the series of strandings that began last month.
According to ABC News, hundreds of volunteers are working to save the dolphins by releasing them into deep water. CNN says the animals are transported by trailer, after they have been tagged, to an outer Cape Cod coast where they are released.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has rescued 31 dolphins and attached satellite tags to them to track their movements. According to Brian Sharp, an IFAW official: “Right now we’re at around 66 percent. We release them off beaches where it gets deep quite quickly. From all these signs that we’ve seen from this event, the satellite tags look very good. We had a pregnant female dolphin that we were able to release. We began doing our health exam and sure enough we discovered that the dolphin was pregnant with probably a third trimester calf.”
This season is usually the period in which strandings peak near Cape Cod but the number of strandings this year is far beyond the usual pattern over 12 years. There has been a spike in the number of strandings this year and marine experts have been left guessing the cause of the upsurge.
Rescuers clean oil off of baby dolphin.
Rescuers clean oil off of baby dolphin.
David Cole
The most commonly suggested reason is change in weather conditions. Changes in water temperature may be contributing to increased cases of dolphin strandings. CNN reports Michael Flanagan, Wellfeet harbormaster, said: "Usually in the winter, the harbor ices over and inhibits the animals from coming close to the shore. But now that the water is warmer, we're seeing lots more dolphins washing up than ever before."
Warmer water might be related to dolphins swimming closer to shore in search for food and getting stranded when the tide goes out. A dolphin rescue worker at Cape Cod Katie Moore, told CNN this was the second time she was seeing so many dolphins coming ashore. She said: "Sometimes they come up one at a time, other times we see them 10 at a time."
Once the animals are stranded ashore they are susceptible to sunburn and organ damage, CNN reports.
Daily Mail says Massachusetts lawmakers held a congressional briefing on Friday and campaigned for federal funding to help the volunteers and staff in their efforts to rescue the dolphins.
IFAW official Sharp, said: "This might be the largest dolphin stranding geographically speaking that we've had."
More about Dolphins, Cape cod, Stranded, Beached
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