Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dolphins were stranded in Boston Harbor

Eight dolphins were discovered early Sunday on a beach in Quincy in what scientists are calling a rare mass stranding in Boston Harbor.

Passers-by discovered the dolphins at about 7 a.m. on Wollaston Beach. They were able to help two of the eight back into the water. The other six were dead.

"They had probably been high and dry since the low tide overnight," said Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium. "The best guess is that these guys were pretty disoriented."

LaCasse said no one at the aquarium could remember a similar mass stranding of dolphins in Boston Harbor, although dolphin strandings have become more common on Cape Cod, especially in winter when the dolphins may be in search of food in marshy areas.

Four of the dead dolphins were taken to the aquarium to try to determine why they may have become stranded in Boston Harbor. Two were taken to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth.

LaCasse said that while it's understandable why people would want to help the living dolphins back into the water, it's probably not a good idea because they could easily become stranded again. It's better to call police and have a dolphin rescue team evaluate the health of the dolphins and release them in deeper waters.

LaCasse said the aquarium had just moved some of its rescue staff to the outer tip of Long Island in New York to help with rescues there.

The stranding is the latest and most dramatic incident in a string of recent dolphin strandings in Massachusetts.

On Jan. 4, two dolphins were found dead on Cape Cod beaches, bringing the total number of strandings that week alone to 17, eight of which were either found dead or had to be euthanized.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"