Saturday, January 28, 2006

Striped dolphin stranded in Oregon

Yet another rarity washed up on the Oregon coast Sunday, after last week’s unusual finds on the shoreline.

Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler said a striped dolphin was found on the beaches of Fort Steven’s State Park, within a mile of the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale.

“It’s rare because these only show up every five years,” Chandler said. “While the white-sided dolphins wash up a little more than once a year.”

A white-sided dolphin washed up north of Seaside last week, as did some rare glass floats from Japan and a very rare Humboldt squid. Stormy seas also brought up rare glass floats in Newport.
Chandler said it’s also unusual that both have showed up in such good condition, as often these corpses are in varying stages of decay. Both dolphins were obviously freshly dead.

The striped dolphin had some bruising on it, which could indicate being trapped by a fishing net or some other physical harm, including post-mortem contact from rolling around the surf.

“Some think the military could be responsible too,” Chandler said. He said exploding charges beneath the ocean could maim or kill these dolphins as well.

The necropsy being performed at Portland State University on both dolphins will be able to tell more. There is no evidence of something killing a lot of dolphins, said Chandler. It’s simply an unusual coincidence.

Porpoises wash up all the time, as they live closer to shore, Chandler said. But the white-sided dolphin and the striped dolphin are pelagic – meaning they are offshore dwellers.

“Striped dolphins are generally a little bigger than the white-sided dolphins, and travel in large schools,” Chandler said. Chandler and the Seaside Aquarium are part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which spots and retrieves stranded sea creatures for Portland State University.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"