Latest Update on Three Dolphins That Died in Sandy Hook

SANDY HOOK: At 11:12am on Saturday February 18th, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center received a call from a member of the public regarding three Common dolphins stranded on a sandbar in Horseshoe Cove in Sandy Hook Gateway National Park. Visitors were in the water trying to push the dolphins back into the bay. MMSC Stranding volunteers local to the Sandy Hook area were immediately dispatched to the scene as MMSC staff mobilized with the Cetacean Stranding Response Vehicle from Brigantine, NJ. MMSC Volunteers were on scene within ten minutes, and worked with New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers, Sandy Hook Law Enforcement, and other park personnel to secure the scene and monitor the animals.
For their safety, visitors were instructed to move away from the dolphins and behind the perimeter. It is never recommended for the public to push a stranded animal back into the water. These animals strand for a reason, and pushing them back delays or prevents any potential medical intervention, and prolongs suffering as many will only re-strand in a different location in worse condition. The risk of injury to the public is also high, as thrashing dolphins can seriously injure people, and potentially carry zoonotic diseases that can be transferred to humans.
MMSC staff arrived on the scene by 1:30pm. All three dolphins had died on the sandbar, and were removed by MMSC staff and volunteers with the assistance of heavy equipment provided by park staff. The dolphins were immediately transported to Animal Health Diagnostic Lab (NJAHDL), New Jersey Dept. of Agriculture in Trenton where the necropsies are taking place. The laboratory will be following NOAA protocols for sampling freshly deceased cetaceans, and preserving samples for analysis of the ears and other organs. We plan to share additional updates when the initial necropsy results become available, however final results of all samples may take several months to come back before a cause of death can be determined, if at all.

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