Rescuers save seven dolphins stranded off Cape Cod

Seven dolphins were released into deeper water after getting stranded off the coast of Cape Cod.

Initial reports to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) suggested at least three dolphins were stuck in the shallow gut of the Herring River in Wellfleet. The IFAW says the town is a common spot for mass stranding events due to its shape as a “hook within a hook” of Cape Cod’s shoreline and because of large tidal fluctuations in Cape Cod Bay.

More than 40 rescuers arrived onsite just before 8 a.m., which was low tide in Wellfleet.

“The first course of action when we arrived was to coordinate how best to access the dolphins and get our equipment out to their challenging location,” Misty Niemeyer, animal rescue officer for IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue & Research team, said in a statement. “The dolphins appeared alert and in good health, but the day was sure to be sunny and warm and we needed to move quickly.”

Niemeyer says the rising tide posed a challenge to the rescue team.

“Our team faced the increased difficulty of rising waters, but we know from experience that it’s not an option to leave the dolphins in this area, because they often get caught in a repetitive cycle of tides and restrand,” she said.

The dolphins were wrapped in cooling blankets to help them maintain a healthy body temperature in hot weather.

They were then taken to deeper water off Provincetown in the IFAW’s mobile dolphin rescue clinic. The vehicle, designed to meet the needs of what is considered a global stranding hotspot on Cape Cod, allows veterinarians to treat as many as nine dolphins at a time for symptoms of stranding.

At about 6-8 feet long and weighing about 250 pounds, the dolphins were believed to be sub-adult males of the Atlantic white-sided species. Younger Atlantic white-sided males sometimes travel separately from females and calves and can be unpredictable when it comes to the time of year they strand, according to the IFAW.

The dolphins were released off Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown in a staggered manner. The IFAW will track the progress of the pod through a tag on one of the dolphins.

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