Mass Stranding of Whales, Dolphins on Cape Cod Investigated
BOSTON Animal protection workers were investigating Monday the mass stranding and death of 24 pilot whales and 15 dolphins during a winter storm on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Strong winds and tidal surges during a powerful storm on Friday likely trapped the mammals, leading to the biggest mass stranding of whales on Cape Cod in three years, said Kristen Patchett of the Cape Cod Stranding Network.
Most of the dolphins and whales died Saturday.
Animal welfare workers euthanized seven of the dolphins and five whales which showed signs of suffering from shock. "We didn't feel they would survive if they were put back in the water," said Patchett.
The dolphins were found on beaches mostly near Barnstable, about 60 miles southeast of Boston on Cape Cod Bay. The whales were found beached a further 15 miles east in Brewster, said Patchett.
Strandings of whales and dolphins are common on Cape Cod, a summer resort region known for its beaches. From 1999 to 2004, Patchett's group responded to an average of 204 strandings of marine mammals a year.
But strandings of two species at once is rare and could be due to Friday's powerful storm, said Patchett. The last time two species were stranded at once on Cape Cod was in 1997.
"The usual causes are groups that get into shallow areas and when the tide goes out they become trapped," she said. In October, her group rescued five stranded dolphins, she added.
Pilot whales, which are generally all-black to coal gray in color, can measure up to 20 feet and weigh up to 3 tons. Adult females can measure up to 16 feet.