Beachings are common this time of year, yet the volume of dolphins stranded this past month is staggering. On average, between December and March, roughly 230 marine mammals (dolphins, whales, seals, etc.) strand themselves over a 700 mile stretch between Cape Cod and Rhode Island. In just a month’s time, this particular event has led to over 100 dolphin beachings along 20 miles of coastline.
While no clear explanation has been offered, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has hinted that stress caused by human impact may be partly to blame for incidents such as this. Other factors such as changes in tidal activity and weather play a significant role in the beachings.
Backed by the IFAW, a huge rescue effort is underway to save these dolphins. Over 300 volunteers have made their way to Cape Cod Bay, working tirelessly to safely transport the animals back to the ocean. However, the IFAW is already running out of the allocated budget it has for funding such efforts. This past Friday, Katie Moore, the manager of marine animal rescue and research for the IFAW and head of the organization’s Cape Cod Stranding Network, stood before Congress and made a case for federal assistance.
“We’ve already depleted about half of our budget for the year and we still have 11 months left in 2012,” said Moore, “We’ve seen half as many animals strand themselves this month as we usually do in an entire year.”
Moore’s meeting with Congress was hosted by congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) who released a statement urging congress to act on this marine tragedy.
“Dolphins are recognized as intelligent creatures and something troubling and tragic is occurring in Massachusetts’ waters and on her beaches,” said the congressman. “That’s why we need to give our best scientists and rescuers all the resources they need so they can apply their intelligence to discovering the cause of these deaths and save as many dolphins as is possible.”
While scientists scramble to find an answer to why such an elevated number of dolphins are stranding themselves, volunteers continue to work around the clock. Despite their efforts, 75 animals have died already, with 37 being successfully released back into deeper waters.
To keep up to date and for ways to get involved, check out the IFAW’s website.