[MARMAM] FW: Common Dolphin Mass Strandings on Cape Cod

Moore, Katie kmoore at ifaw.org
Thu Feb 23 12:40:34 PST 2012

Dear Colleagues,
We would like provide you with a brief update regarding the protracted
mass stranding event of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) along the
shores of Cape Cod, MA USA.  Many of you have likely seen some of the
news coverage of this event.  We wanted to provide you with information
directly from the lead response team.
The event began on 12 January 2012  and lasted for 36 days, with the
last animal found on 16 February 2012.  We have not had live animal
strandings since 14 Feb. and have not had any reports of dead animals
since 16 Feb.  
Here is where the tally currently stands:
Total number of common dolphins: 179
                                Found alive:   71
                              Found dead:   108
                - Of the 71 dolphins found alive by staff and
                            - 53 successfully released
                            -  3 released and re-stranded
                            - 11 died
                            - 4 humanely euthanized
Complete health assessments were conducted on all live stranded animals
including physical exams, heart rate and resp. rate, CBC and chemistry.
Select animals also received advanced diagnostics such as ultrasound
exams.  Those animals deemed healthy enough were released.  Most were
transported over land to open ocean facing beaches to reduce the
likelihood of re-stranding.  Due to logistical constraints, ten animals
at the end of the event were released from the stranding site and herded
offshore to deeper water.  
Satellite tags were deployed on 11 animals.   Tag data indicate that the
dolphins are utilizing known habitat within this region.  
Necropsies have been completed on 9 of the animals for which time of
death was known.  Several animals remain in the freezer pending
necropsy.  A minimum of Level A (basic data and samples) were collected
from all stranded animals.  Every reported animal (all 179) was
There have been no consistent pathologies noted in the live or deceased
dolphins.  Although lab results are still pending for many analyses,
there is no indication at this time to suggest any one cause for this
event.  Pending analyses include, but are not limited to:
histopathology, microbiology, virology, etc.  Furthermore, there is no
evidence suggesting that acoustic trauma is a cause for this event.
Working with NOAA and the US Navy, we have confirmed that the only
activity on the east coast of the US during this time frame took place
off the mid-Atlantic and SE Atlantic coasts and did not involve active
sonar.  The nearest activity was in Virginia, too far away to have
affected these animals within Cape Cod Bay.  Also, if we approach this
logically: if activity off the mid-Atlantic were causing this event, we
would also see similar mass strandings stretching along the coastline
between Cape Cod and the mid-Atlantic, but, we are not.  I have spoken
with other regional Stranding network members, and no above average
numbers of common dolphin strandings have been documented.  We are still
seeking information regarding the possibility of other industrial
activities off the coast of Massachusetts during this period.  Of
significant note, however, are other changes in the greater Gulf of
Maine ecosystem as noted by other researchers. We are attempting to
compile environmental (physical and chemical oceanographic data) as well
as biological data to analyze for possible correlations to this event.
For more info and links to some of the media reports, please go to
www.ifaw.org <http://www.ifaw.org>  , and
research> . 
Kind regards,
Katie Moore
 Katie Moore | Manager | Marine Mammal Rescue and Research

IFAW - International Fund for Animal Welfare
World Headquarters
290 Summer Street - Yarmouth Port, MA 02675
tel. 1.508.744.2000  email. rescue at ifaw.org <mailto:rescue at ifaw.org>  
Saving Animals in Crisis Around the World   www.ifaw.org

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