Scientists are baffled by the scores of dolphins that have stranded themselves on the shores of Cape Cod in the last month, as 11 more joined their ranks today.
The Associated Press reported that at least 178 dolphins have been stranded on Cape Cod in the last month, and 125 of them have died despite efforts to rescue them.
The bunch that got stranded today did so on a remote inlet where quickly receding tides leave behind a "grayish-brown mud,” said The Christian Science Monitor.
The average for marine animals, including dolphins, whales, seals and porpoises, getting stranded on the beaches of Cape Cod is 228 per year, according to PBS. What is strangest about the current phenomenon is that it’s been limited exclusively to the common dolphin.
Katie Moore, the manager of the marine mammal rescue effort at International Fund for Animal Welfare said, “All 178 are common dolphins, which is what’s scary. If I look over the last 13 years, the average number of common dolphins we see in a year is 38. This is an enormous event,” according to PBS.
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The theories about what is causing this mass stranding range from changes in the climate and water temperature to the behavior of the dolphins’ prey, according to the AP.
The rescuers either have to haul the dolphins to a waiting trailer and lead them to open water, or they wait until the tide comes in and let boats herd them into the ocean. Unfortunately, dolphins cannot survive long on land. The rescuers also count on the dolphins’ social behavior to help them stick together once they are shown to the open water, said the AP.
Despite rescue efforts by the IFAW, the dolphins have not done well in recovering from being stranded, and more continue to land on the shores of Cape Cod.
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Here is a video from the IFAW website: