Saturday, September 01, 2007

Beached dolphins dies while other swims near by

A young female dolphin was found dead this morning on a beach in Fairhaven on the South Coast as a larger adult dolphin swam in circles about 40 to 50 feet offshore.

The dead dolphin did not have any lacerations or other external signs of trauma, said C.T. Harry of the Cape Cod Stranding Network. Its body will be taken to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for a necropsy to try to determine why it died.

The older dolphin is not currently in danger of stranding, but it is being closely monitored from shore by the stranding network.

"It made it through the low tide," which is a good sign, said Harry, an assistant stranding coordinator.

The two dolphins were first spotted Thursday night swimming together near West Island and appeared to be in danger of beaching themselves, Harry said. A volunteer responded to the scene but was unable to see the dolphins.

Fairhaven police called the stranding network at 7 a.m. with news that the young dolphin was dead on the beach. Dolphins beach themselves for a variety of reasons, Harry said. Some are sick and dying. Others swim near shore to feed and get trapped at low tide. Dolphins are social animals and when one of the mammals beaches itself, others often follow.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the one that is alive is an adult female," Harry said. "Whether they are related in the sense that it's mom to a social dependent calf, it's speculative."

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"