WELLFLEET, Mass. (WWLP) - Usually Cape Cod beaches remain quiet and empty during wintertime.
In the last couple weeks, however, about 300 volunteers and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) staff have been working around the clock near Wellfleet Harbor to rescue stranded dolphins.
IFAW Spokesperson A.J. Cady told 22News, the organization has confirmed 85 stranded dolphins, but that number could be as high as 101 because reports of washed up dolphins are coming in daily.
So far in January, according to IFAW, of those 85 dolphins, 50 were found dead. The rest were alive in some sort of condition, but only 24 were able to make it back out to the sea.
“This is extremely unusual,” Cady said. “The average number of washed up dolphins we see in a year is about 120, but we are now reaching that number within just a week or so.”
Researchers and volunteers are trying to learn as much as they can, but no one knows why these dolphins ended up in Cape Cod Bay.
Cady told 22News, “Exactly why they came… No one knows, but once they get inside [Cape Cod Bay] for whatever reason, it’s like being inside a hook. It’s easy for them to get trapped. Then Wellfleet Harbor is like a hook within a hook, so it’s even harder for dolphins to get back out.”
In fact, just last week, they had to guide 60 dolphins out of the bay using boats and noisemakers because the dolphins were swimming inside the dangerous area.
Bringing each stranded dolphin that weighs hundreds of pounds requires a lot of work, but Cady said, close to 300 trained volunteers play a vital role.
“Cape Cod community really is tremendously supportive,” he told 22News. “Without the volunteers, we can’t rescue all these dolphins.”