Cape Gazette
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Six dolphins, turtle die of unknown causes

Storm surge carries animals to shore
By Ryan Mavity | Jun 07, 2013
Photo by: Submitted Weekend rains washed up six dead dolphins and a turtle up on Delaware beaches. The animals are believed to have died at sea.

Six dolphins and a sea turtle washed up on Delaware beaches June 7.

Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute, said the animals were already dead when they were pushed to shore by the storm surge of today’s rains. Thurman said the animals had decomposed so much that MERR cannot determine the cause of death.

The animals were found at different locations: three along Delaware Bay and three in the ocean. Thurman said the dolphins were only a year or two old except for one adult that washed up at Fowler Beach. The sea turtle was found on the south side of Indian River Inlet, Thurman said.

While the number of animals washing up is high, Thurman said it is not unusual for animals that die far out in the sea to wash up during a storm, carried by wave energy from the storm.  Thurman said no other animals washed up over the weekend, despite the rain lasting until Sunday morning.

On an unrelated note, 10 days ago, MERR responded to a pregnant pygmy sperm whale that had beached off Cape Shores. Thurman said the whale weighed 900 pounds, and preliminary results showed she died due to a heart defect. The whale had not been eating and was not at full term, Thurman said. She said nothing could be done to save the calf regardless, because baby whales cannot survive without their mother.

Should beachgoers come across with a dead animal, Thurman said do not come into direct contact with it. She said a photo sent to MERR would be helpful, but otherwise to keep distance and call MERR immediately, 228-5029.

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