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Rare Dolphin Stranding Near Oregon Coast: Seen Once in Two Decades

Published 04/11/2016 at 6:11 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Seaside, Oregon) – Crews working for Seaside Aquarium and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network made a rare find just north of the Oregon coast yesterday: a northern right whale dolphin. The five-foot-long dolphin was found stranded in Seaview, Washington. (Photos courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).

While the dolphin itself is not rare, it isn't usually seen this far north. What actually makes the find so unusual is that this only the second one to wash up on the northern Oregon coast and southern Washington coast in decades.

Tiffany Boothe with Seaside Aquarium said the northern right whale dolphin (Lissodelphis borealis) stranded itself on the beach late last night in that area.

“In the 25 or so years that the Seaside Aquarium has been involved with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network this is only the second northern right whale dolphin that we have seen,” Boothe said.

At the time the creature was reported to have washed ashore it was still alive. By the time the aquarium crew arrived, Boothe said it had died.

“At this time it is unknown why this animal stranded itself,” Boothe said. “Along the Oregon and Washington coasts, cetaceans which end up on the beach alive are usually very sick animals. The dolphin was recovered and a necropsy will be preformed later at Portland State University.”

Boothe said they normally live as far north as the California coast but don't get up here that often. She believes it and maybe others it was traveling with were following warm water currents into the area. They usually travel in pods anywhere from a few individuals to hundreds.

This type of dolphin normally gets to about six to ten feet in length, and males are usually larger than females. They have a slender, streamlined body with a beak that's not very long, a sloping forehead and small flukes. From some angles, they may appear smaller than they really are because they have a slim body configuration. They are the only species of dolphin in the northern Pacific Ocean to not have a dorsal fin.

This kind of body type also aids in their ability to cruise the surface with not much of the dolphin showing.

They are known as swift swimmers and for making graceful leaps out of the water. The right whale dolphin can keep up the pace at 16 mph, but can hit the occasional burst of 22 mph. Scientific studies show they generally try to keep clear of vessels at sea. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours





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