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125 dolphins stranded in ‘difficult’ location on Massachusetts beach, animal welfare group says

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(WELLFLEET, Mass. ) — Some 125 dolphins are currently stranded on a beach near Wellfleet, Massachusetts, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).


The Atlantic white-sided dolphins are stranded at the Great Island at the Herring River — also known as the “Gut” — which is a very difficult location to access and is covered in “dangerous mud,” Stacey Hedman, director of communications for the IFAW, said in a statement on Friday.

Ten dolphins had died before IFAW staff even arrived on the scene, Hedman said, describing the incident as the single-largest mass stranding event the group has ever responded to.

Low tide occurred at 11:23 a.m., Hedman said. Given the large number of distressed dolphins, the plan is to triage and support the animals before attempting to refloat and herd as many as possible.

Aerial footage taken by ABC Boston affiliate WCVB showed dozens of immobile dolphins lying on the coast on Friday afternoon, many of them covered in wet towels placed there by rescuers to keep the dolphins’ skin from drying out.

The video captured volunteers arriving to begin assisting the dolphins. Soon after, more crowds arrived, also appearing to help.

At least 25 IFAW staff and 100 volunteers were on the scene by late afternoon, Hedman said. Using three small vessels in the water, they continued herding and using underwater pingers to encourage the dolphins to twin in the proper direction as high tide approached.

Although temperatures were cooler on Friday than in recent days, the dolphins risk getting sunburned and overheated should they remain on the beach until the tide rises, Hedman said. High tide was expected to occur at about 5:34 p.m.

The IFAW has had success in the past herding white-sided dolphins, Hedman said.

Cape Cod is a global stranding hotspot due to the curvature of the shores and the fluctuation of the tides, according to experts.

It is unclear why dolphins strand themselves, Hedman said.

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