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More Unexplained Dolphin Strandings


A descriptive, evocative report by Jay Lindsay of the A.P. on the massive, unexplained beaching of more and more dolphins on the Cape Cod coast:

The remote inlet down Wellfleet’s Herring River is a place where the tides recede fast and far, and that’s left the animals mired in a grayish-brown mud one local calls “Wellfleet mayonnaise.”

Walking is the only way to reach the animals, but it’s not easy. Rescuers crunch through cord grass and seashells before hitting a grabby muck that releases a footstep only after a sucking pop. One volunteer hits a thigh-deep “hole” and tumbles forward. The mud covers his face like messy war paint the rest of the morning.

The total, so far, of 177 dolphins (125 of whom have died) is nearly five times what’s normal, and there’s no explanation.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is doing sterling work getting as many as possible back out to the ocean, but the volunteers have to wait until the tide comes back in before they can help the dolphins back out.Or they can try to carry one dolphin at a time back to their medical truck. But the truck can be a mile away at low tide.

“We’ll take advantage of the fact that they’re social animals,” said Kerry Branon, an IFAW spokeswoman. “We’re hoping if we release them together, they’ll stick together and then we’ll herd them out around the point.”

Not all the dolphins are on board, though. One drifts off to the left, where he could beach again. The manager of the stranding team, Katie Moore, slides over, grabs its dorsal fin, and gives it a push in the right direction.

“You’re going the wrong way, buddy,” she says.

The A.P. story is on many sites, including the San Francisco Chronicle.