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WDC responds to stranded striped dolphin on Plymouth Long Beach, MA

WDC’s Stranding Coordinator, Sarah McCormack listens to the heart and lungs during a health assessment.
WDC’s Stranding Coordinator, Sarah McCormack listens to the heart and lungs during a health assessment.

For Immediate Release, February 23, 2023


A striped dolphin was seen swimming close to shore off Plymouth Long Beach in Plymouth, MA on Friday, February 17th. 

The dolphin was reported to Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s Marine Animal Rescue & Response (MARR) hotline by concerned beachgoers in the late afternoon. They reported that there was a single dolphin who had been swimming close to shore for at least an hour and had beached itself multiple times. WDC quickly dispatched team members to Plymouth Long Beach to determine if the dolphin was still in the area and, if so, observe its behavior. 

Upon arrival, WDC’s Stranding Coordinator, Sarah McCormack, re-spotted the dolphin swimming in circles approximately 20 feet from shore. She continued to monitor the dolphin and called for additional MARR team members and equipment. 

30 minutes after WDC arrived on scene, the dolphin swam onto the beach. For dolphins who spend their lives suspended in the water, this is a traumatic event similar to a human experiencing a car accident.

To prevent further injury to the animal, our MARR team decided to place the dolphin in a specialized stretcher and bring her on shore for a health assessment and provide supportive care. 

WDC’s MARR team quickly realized this was not a species commonly seen in Massachusetts waters and identified it as a striped dolphin. Striped dolphins are deep water species who are highly social and are found in family groups, called ‘pods’. Seeing a single, striped dolphin close to shore was unusual for this species. 

WDC called nearby partnering stranding organization, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) for further support. WDC and IFAW worked collaboratively to evaluate the heath of this dolphin and determine if she was a candidate for release. After a health assessment, the dolphin was determined to have declining condition and was euthanized to prevent further suffering. 

WDC and IFAW performed a necropsy this week to try to learn more about why the dolphin animal beached itself. The dolphin was in thin body condition, but there was no obvious cause of declining condition or stranding seen during exam. The team collected samples to be sent out for further analysis.  

WDC would like to thank the concerned beachgoers who called our MARR hotline about this dolphin and the Plymouth residents who stood by and supported our team – we are truly appreciative of this community. 

If you see a dolphin, whale, porpoise, or seal in distress from Weymouth through Plymouth, please call WDC’s hotline at (617) 688-6872.

High resolution images available HEREWhale and Dolphin Conservation 

Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC),  is the leading international charity dedicated solely to the worldwide conservation and welfare of all whales, dolphins, and porpoises. WDC is authorized by NOAA to respond to stranded marine mammals through an agreement as part of the Greater Atlantic Regional Marine Mammal Stranding Network. 

Press contact: Sarah McCormack, Stranding Coordinator, [email protected]

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