Live Dolphin Washes Up on North Oregon Coast
(Seaside, Oregon) – Crews from the Seaside Aquarium responded to a report of a live dolphin washed ashore on Wednesday in Gearhart. The story did not have a happy ending for the dolphin, however, as it died by the end of the day. (All photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium/Tiffany Boothe).
As part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, it's the Seaside Aquarium's job to look into stranded, deceased or distressed sea creatures that wind up onshore. The crew received the call at 8:30 a.m. about a dolphin still alive at the tide line, and arrived to find a seven-foot Striped dolphin still thrashing around the surf.
Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler said there was copious amounts of blood, coming from the dolphin wiggling around so much that it had scraped its own skin off in several places. The tail was especially raw, Chandler said.
“There was a lot of blood but it was superficial wounds,” Chandler said. “It had been on the beach for five hours trying to swim back out. So it was thrashing around quite a bit.”
The dolphin was brought back to the aquarium and placed in cool seawater to help lower its body temperature, with aquarium employees Tiffany Boothe and Jason Hussa assisting. There, they were able to get a closer look at the dolphin's condition, which resulted in almost as many questions as answers.
“Once we put it in the pool it listed over on its side, and that makes it difficult for them to breathe because it breathes through a blowhole,” Chandler said. “So that was a sign something was obviously wrong. Something was throwing off its balance. Jason had to hold it upright to help it breathe. Something was wrong internally. Whether that was a virus infection in the brain, or what, we don't know. The necropsy will tell us that.”
The striped dolphin died at about 4:15 p.m.
These dolphins are not common to the Oregon coast at all. Chandler said one washes up onshore less than once every five years – although the central Oregon coast has seen about four in the last year. Other kinds of dolphins found off these shores include Risso's dolphins and White-sided dolphins, but they too rarely wash up on beaches here.
Quite common are harbor porpoises, however, which are often mistaken for dolphins.
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