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Oregon Crew Responds to Dolphin on Washington Coast

Published 01/05/21 at 3:45 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Crew Responds to Dolphin on Washington Coast

(Seaside, Oregon) – A large but still young striped dolphin washed ashore on the Washington side of the Pacific Northwest coast, with the north Oregon coast’s Seaside Aquarium responding to the scene to retrieve the body. (All photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

The aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe said the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) washed up on the Long Beach Peninsula about 11:30 a.m. Monday. Clocking in at 6.8 feet, it’s likely it had been dead for awhile.

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“There was no indication that the dolphin washed ashore alive but it must have died shortly before washing in,” she said. “While sad, we can learn a lot from such a fresh and well-preserved animal. The dolphin was recovered by staff from the Seaside Aquarium and will be taken up to Portland State University where it will be part of a necropsy.”

Boothe said that judging by the size of the mammal he was between 6 and 15 years old. They usually live to around 58.

According to Boothe, striped dolphins are nothing new around the Oregon or Washington coast, but that’s out in the water. They don’t usually wash up on the beaches.

“Striped dolphins are among the most abundant and widespread dolphins in the world and are quite common in the offshore waters along the west coast,” she said. “They can be found in groups of 25 to 100 individuals but every once in awhile will gather in the thousands. In the U.S. they are not considered endangered or threatened but like all marine mammals, they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

Responding to dead or live animals on the beaches is part of the Seaside Aquarium’s role in the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Its range is the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington down to the Oregon coast’s Tillamook Bay. The aquarium has partnered with them since 1991.

Dolphin strandings seem to happen maybe once a year or farther apart on this coastline.

Other documented incidents in the Oregon Coast Beach Connection archives:

2014. Seaside Aquarium responded to a report of a live dolphin in Gearhart. The story did not have a happy ending for the dolphin, however, as it died by the end of the day in spite of strenuous efforts to save it. 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.

2016 brought the discovery of a northern right whale dolphin. The five-foot-long dolphin was found stranded in Seaview, Washington. 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.

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