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Rescuers rush to Massachusetts beaches after 'unusual' number of dolphins stranded

On Sunday, multiple dolphins became stranded on beaches, prompting animal rescuers to rush to the shores.

An unusually large number of dolphins became stranded on Massachusetts beaches on Sunday, prompting rescue groups to dash to the shores of Duxbury, Plymouth and Barnstable.

Ten common dolphins became stranded in four different locations along Duxbury and Plymouth beaches during low tide, said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium.

The aquarium worked with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to aid the dolphins. Two dolphins died but the other eight were able to get back into the water. As of Monday morning, animal rescuers were observing one dolphin who was swimming in shallow waters.

Around the same time, other IFAW workers were rescuing two stranded common dolphins in Barnstable Harbor.

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“Dolphin strandings happen on the Cape every winter, generally from late January to March,” LaCasse said. “But this year ... it’s been a bigger year than normal.”

Dolphins become stranded when they come closer to shallow coastal environments in order to hunt for fish, LaCasse said. In these shallower waters, the dolphins aren’t used to tides going up and down as much as 10 feet.

“A lot of them get disoriented and then they’ll get trapped,” he said.
Rescuers were observing the area beginning at mid-afternoon on Sunday and at 5 p.m., six dolphins became stranded all at once. Just as a fire department calls for help, LaCasse said, the aquarium employees called IFAW and those rescuers came to help.
IFAWhas had an "unusually busy stranding season," a spokesperson said. IFAW has responded to more than 150 stranded marine animals in 2017, many of which were dolphins.
Thousands of dolphins live year around in the New England waters, LaCasse said. Often when they become stranded, rescuers see a few different types of species. Sunday’s event was especially unusual as all the animals stranded were of the ‘common dolphin’ species.
Common dolphins are a smallspecies, LaCasse said. As adults, they areusually 6 to 7 feet longand weigh between 225 and 375 pounds.
 
 
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