Featured Image Credit: KERRY BRANON/INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
Dozens of residents and volunteers opted to spend their New Year’s Day valiantly rescuing several stranded Risso’s dolphins in Wellfleet Harbor.
The first call came into the International Fund for Animal Welfare around 8 am, with 3 dolphins reported in trouble, but when officials arrived on the scene they discovered 10 Risso’s dolphins. Kerry Branon is a spokes person for the nonprofit and she assumed that the marine mammals likely came in while hunting for prey.
Plan A was to try and herd the dolphins out of the cove with two boats, but with the tide quickly moving out, rescuers had to quickly switch to Plan B. Branon said, “It was all hands on deck.”
After warming up from frigid wind with hot cocoa provided by local residents, the rescuers trekked through the thick mud of Chipman’s Cove with stretchers in order to wheel out the dolphins one at at time. The team had three transportation trucks: one flat bed that could fit two dolphins, and two enclosed trucks, which could safely carry 4 dolphins each.
The task truly involved heavy lifting since Risso’s dolphins can weight between 600 and 1100 lbs. “They are pretty big, and really quite heavy,” Branon said, adding that this was the largest stranding of Risso’s the nonprofit has ever responded to. “It’s a massive undertaking, 10 dolphins.” It took 15 volunteers to relocate the dolphins from the mud flats to the trucks.
After the “gray dolphins” were gently placed inside the transport trucks, they were driven to Corn Hill Beach, which is in nearby Truro. The nonprofit determined the location to have favorable winds and tides that would help the mammals make it back to sea.
Branon told the Boston Globe, “It was an amazing team effort over many, many hours on a blustery, cold winter day. Everyone was doing everything they could to save those dolphins. . . . I even saw a guy on the side of the road in Wellfleet, and he was standing there with a tray of hot cocoa. He had fresh mugs of cocoa that he made for everyone.”
Apparently, it was not long ago that the rescuers and staff were in a similar situation. Back in September, 16 Atlantic white-sided dolphins had to be rescued in a cove near Chequessett Neck Road.
Whether or not this was how the IFAW wanted to spend New Year’s Day we’re sure glad they did. Way to go team!