Marine mammal rescue and research intern Nicole Hunter was first on the scene on Saturday and was at all of the events described. Nicole has done two internships with us and is now serving as a Stranding Apprentice with a necropsy focus. She attended the University of New England and worked at the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center there. She has also worked with Marine Mammals of Maine. The following is her account of the rescues.–KP
On Saturday morning just prior to 8am, we received a report to our hotline of six common dolphins stranded in Barnstable Harbor. We quickly dispatched some members of our team to go out with the Sandy Neck rangers since the animals were in an area that is difficult to access.
Shortly after we arrived, the tide turned and started to come in quickly before we were able to move the animals to our rescue trailer and all six animals refloated and swam away.
Around that time, we received a report of four additional dolphins that had stranded and refloated in another part of the harbor.
Although all ten of the animals were now swimming, they had broken into a few different groups. They were all still within the shallow waters of the harbor which is difficult area for them to navigate in, so we set out trying to guide them out of the harbor with boats.
With the help of vessels and personnel from the Barnstable Harbormaster and Department of Natural Resources, we set out trying to guide a group of four of the dolphins into open water.
While our attempts on the boats were underway, two of the dolphins that had previously stranded, stranded again in yet another part of Barnstable Harbor.
Part of our team was dispatched there and they were able to move the two animals to our rescue trailer where they were given full health assessments.
Meanwhile, the team on the water was still out guiding the group of four dolphins and was making some good progress getting them closer to the entrance of the harbor. A single dolphin was then spotted away from the group.
The boats were used to guide the lone animal to the group of four, making it now a group of five, and we guided them out of the harbor together.
Afterwards, we brought the boats in and met up with the rest of the team at our rescue trailer.
Once health assessments on the two animals in our rescue trailer were complete, we then drove to Scusset Beach where the animals would have quick access to deeper waters.
While we were gearing up to release the two dolphins, we got a report of another live dolphin in shallow Wellfleet waters.
After the Scusset release, we turned around and headed straight to Wellfleet. Upon our arrival we found that a well-meaning member of the public had used a kayak to push the animal out before we had the chance to assess its condition or release it in an area easier to navigate and with deeper water.
We scouted from land looking for the animal, but did not spot it.
It was nearly 8 pm when we were on our way back from Wellfleet and got a report of five stranded dolphins in Dennis. Again, well-meaning individuals tried to move three of the animals back into the water but all three re-stranded on the same beach.
When we arrived, we removed all five dolphins and brought them into our rescue trailer to perform health assessments.
We then drove them to West Dennis Beach where we had our second release of the day.
Later, we used photo matching to confirm that the five dolphins that stranded in Dennis were five of the same dolphins that had stranded in Barnstable harbor earlier that day.
READ: Three busy days of dolphin rescues
Around midday, two dolphins were reported stranded in Orleans. Our team arrived on site and was able to rescue both animals, perform health assessments, and release them at West Dennis Beach. We used photo matching again to determine that these two dolphins were two of the animals that had stranded in Barnstable harbor four days before.
One of these animals was affixed with a satellite tag and as of now is approximately 70 miles south of Nantucket in deep offshore waters.
Article source: IFAW