Beach Strandings of Marine Mammals in Southeast Massachusetts in the Winter of 1998/99
In November 1998, the Cape Cod Stranding Network Inc. began working with the New England Aquarium (NEAq) to respond to marine mammal
strandings on Cape Cod. For the period 11/24/98 to 2/27/99 case numbers for each species encountered were: harbor porpoise (14), harp seal (12), Atlantic
whitesided dolphin (4), hooded seal (2), harbor seal (2), common dolphin (1), humpback whale (1), pilot whale (1) and striped dolphin (1).
Of these 38 cases, 14 were found dead, and 24 alive. Two harbor porpoises were released, and have not been knowingly re-sighted. Another
harbor porpoise was stabilized at the NEAq before transfer to Baltimore Aquarium. One whitesided dolphin was released and later found dead. The other live
animals were euthanized. Triage decisions would at times have been different if rehabilitation had been more available locally.
Necropsies were conducted on 16 cases. Direct interactions with humans were assumed to be the cause of death in 4 cases. Causes of death
of other cases are under investigation.
The high proportion of live to dead animals reflects the value of this area for establishing a regional rehabilitation effort, and for
maximal research utilization of the individuals that have to be euthanized.
This work was supported by the Humane Society of the US, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the International Wildlife
Coalition, the Island Foundation and the Pegasus Foundation. The authors wish to thank Andrew Stamper, Connie Merigo and their group for their help in this