The Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team in Virginia Beach, Va., has recently taken nearly a dozen phone calls for common dolphin sightings and strandings. The dolphins have been seen between Fort Story and up the bay side of the Eastern Shore, as far north as Harborton and as far south as Fisherman Island. Common dolphins are an offshore species and are not typically found in shallow inshore waters.
The Aquarium’s Stranding team identified four live common dolphins that stranded in shallow creeks, five dead dolphins that stranded on shore, and a group of approximately ten dolphins moving freely in a shallow creek. The team hoped the live dolphins would navigate back to deeper water on their own. The dolphins’ activity has been monitored and two dolphins re-stranded this morning and the team dispatched to respond.
One dolphin was found with a severe wound on its flank while the other dolphins had no obvious sign of injury or illness. Dolphin necropsies will be conducted by the Virginia Aquarium Response Team to collect samples for information on cause of stranding, and other research studies.
Aquarium biologists believe the deaths are from biological causes and not human interactions, however, there is not an obvious cause for the event at this time. This is an ongoing investigation and additional analyses will be conducted over several months.
The Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Program is largely a volunteer-based group supported by the Virginia Aquarium Foundation through donations from the community and grant-making organizations.