WELLFLEET, Mass. -- Four stranded dolphins among a herd of eight caught swimming during low tide on Thanksgiving on Cape Cod have been rescued.
Rescuers stabilized the four stranded common dolphins, carried them out of the mud at Herring River and placed them in a rescue trailer for full health exams. The dolphins were all deemed healthy for release back to the ocean.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare says its Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team successfully herded three other dolphins out of danger on Thursday. One dolphin died.
Rescuers and volunteers from IFAW, AmeriCorps and the National Park Service released one dolphin bull and three cows from Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown.
The number of dolphin strandings has risen to 262 this year, far exceeding the average of 38, IFAW spokesman Michael Booth said.
The dramatic rise in dolphin strandings contributes to a total of more than 340 strandings of seals, whales, porpoises and dolphins this year, Booth said.
Researchers continue to study the causes for the sharp uptick in strandings, but main factors that have always led to the problem include the area's topography. The gently sloping beaches, the hook-like geography of Wellfleet Bay and Cape Cod and the maze-like creeks and inlets help to fuel the trend, Booth said.
Drastic tidal fluctuations catch dolphins by surprise, and the social nature of the dolphins keeps them together if even one of them is disoriented or sick, contributing to the strandings.