Photo credit: International Fund for Animal Welfare

Mass Stranding of 125 Dolphins Off Cape Cod: Largest in At Least 25 Years

On Friday, approximately 125 Atlantic white-sided dolphins became stranded around low tide in a challenging, muddy area off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) identified this as the largest single mass stranding event the agency has encountered in over 25 years, reported by the Cape Cod Times.

The dolphins were discovered in a location known as The Gut, between Great Island and the Herring River in Wellfleet. Wellfleet police reported that the first distress call came in around 10 a.m. from a resident on Chequessett Neck Road, alerting authorities to about 50 dolphins in trouble. By the time rescue teams arrived, the number had increased to 125, according to NBC Boston.

IFAW mobilized 25 staff members and 100 volunteers to assist in the rescue. They faced a difficult and dangerous environment characterized by treacherous mud. “It’s a very challenging location,” said IFAW spokesperson Stacey Hedman. The rescuers wore waders and personal flotation devices as they worked to save the dolphins.

“Low tide was at 11:23 a.m., and the team was in shallow water on foot,” Hedman explained. Tragically, 10 dolphins had already died before the team could reach them. However, many of the remaining dolphins were still in shallow water or completely out of the water, covered with tarps to protect them from the sun, as reported by ABC News.

Despite cooler temperatures that day, the dolphins risked sunburn and overheating until the tide rose, which was expected to peak at around 5:34 p.m. IFAW used three small vessels and underwater noise machines to guide the dolphins back to deeper waters, according to CBS Boston.

“There is no set reason for why these dolphins strand,” Hedman noted. “Cape Cod is a global stranding hot spot due to the curvature of our shores and the fluctuation of our tides.”

IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team, led by stranding coordinator Misty Niemeyer, was hopeful. “If we can get them back in the water and out of this area, they have a good chance,” Niemeyer stated. “But this is a very big stranding event, so we’re going to do our best,” as reported by the Cape Cod Times.




Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!