First, it was the report of mass strandings and deaths of short-beaked common dolphins on the beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts (HW 2/17/12). Then news came of more than 250 dead bottlenosed dolphins washing up on the sandy shores of Chiclayo, Peru (HW 2/28/12).
Now, at last, some good news about these loved sea creatures. At eight o’clock on the morning of March 5, some 30 dolphins beached themselves on the shores of Arraial do Cabo, Brazil, just north of Rio de Janeiro–and were promptly rescued by a group of locals and tourists.
The moving event was captured by Gerd Traue in the video above, which has gone viral on the Web. It is dramatic to see the dolphins’ humped, finned backs suddenly start to appear on the flat sea horizon, then watch as an entire pod of dolphins swims up to the shore and struggles in the sand. The beachgoers work swiftly to pull the dolphins back into the ocean by their tails or push their bodies into deeper water. Finally, all the animals are returned to their element, as the happy humans hoot and applaud.
Experts still have no explanations for the unusual dolphin events in any of the three locations. On March 7, the Boston Globe reported that about a dozen more dolphins had beached themselves in Cape Cod since the original, record-breaking mass strandings reported on February 14. Michael Booth, spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare–which has led the Cape Cod rescue efforts–said, “We run a lot of tests. We draw blood from these dolphins, we do an auditory examination to make sure their hearing is fine, take measurements…. We note down everything.”
According to Boston Globe correspondent Colin A. Young:
The [IFAW] has worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Navy to investigate an array of possible causes. Booth said the group is not ruling anything out and continues to learn more about the dolphins through lab results and necropsies.
“We’ve looked into many, many reasons. A lot of them have been weather-related; and sonar was one we looked into,” he said. “With these lab tests, we’re looking into any disease-related patterns. We can’t really discard any reasons outright, so we have to do as much as we can to go through the list.”
Booth says that discovering the causes of the Cape Cod strandings could take months. Meanwhile, in Peru, the Oceanic Institute (Imarpe) ordered samples from the dead dolphins found at Chiclayo to be sent to Lima for analysis and to determine the cause of their deaths.Video embedded from YouTube.com.