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Mass Dolphin Stranding on Cape Cod Sparks Major Rescue Effort

In Wellfleet, Massachusetts, a challenging operation unfolded as animal rescuers worked tirelessly to prevent dozens of dolphins from venturing into shallow waters around Cape Cod. The previous day, a distressing incident saw 125 dolphins stranded, prompting an urgent response from various animal welfare organizations.

On Saturday, teams from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) encountered a group of 10 Atlantic white-sided dolphins navigating treacherously shallow waters at daybreak. Swift action was taken to guide them back to deeper waters. Simultaneously, scouts located another 25 dolphins near Eastham, prompting ongoing efforts to steer them away from the shore as the tide receded.

Tragically, ten dolphins lost their lives during the stranding at The Gut in Wellfleet, situated at the Herring River. This event marked the largest mass stranding ever handled by the organization in its 26-year presence in the area. The peculiar shape of The Gut, coupled with its dramatic tidal shifts, is believed to contribute to frequent strandings.

Kristy Niem, the organization’s stranding coordinator, highlighted the formidable obstacles faced during the rescue mission on Friday. Challenges included difficult mud conditions and the wide dispersion of the stranded dolphins. Despite the grueling 12-hour response under the scorching sun, the team persevered, striving to provide the dolphins with the best chance of survival.

The rescue operation commenced with on-foot efforts to guide the dolphins back to deeper waters, followed by the utilization of three small boats equipped with underwater pingers. Over 25 organization staff members and 100 trained volunteers, assisted by groups like Dolphin Conservation, the Center for Coastal Studies, AmeriCorps of Cape Cod, and the New England Aquarium, collaborated in the rescue efforts.

Laura Jarrett from NBC News reported that this event is described as the most extensive stranding occurrence witnessed in the area. The coordinated efforts of various agencies and volunteers were crucial in saving over 100 dolphins that found themselves stranded in shallow waters near Cape Cod.

As the rescue teams continue their efforts, the incident underscores the ongoing challenges faced by marine wildlife in the region and the critical role of rapid response and collaboration in ensuring their survival.