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How Unusual is that Dolphin Stranding on Oregon Coast?

Published 06/16/2018 at 7:02 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

How Unusual is that Dolphin Stranding on Oregon Coast?

(Manzanita, Oregon) – On June 9, the north Oregon coast’s Seaside Aquarium responded to a call about a stranded creature on the sands of Nehalem Bay State Park and discovered something very rare: a female northern right dolphin. (2008 photo above courtesy Keith Chandler, Seaside Aquarium).

The cause of death is still to be determined, but one thing is for sure: these are extremely rare. See Oregon Coast Rarity: Stranded Dolphin Only Seen Four Times in 23 Years.

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How unusual are they? Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium said their crew has only encountered it four times now in 23 years, since 1995 when the aquarium started working with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

One of those times was documented in 2008 by Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

Back in that January, winter storms tossed up a long-deceased right whale dolphin, this time in the Cannon Beach area.

“This particular dolphin had been dead for quite some time and most likely traveled north, via ocean currents, after it had already died,” said Boothe back in 2008.

At the time she said it should not be seen outside of northern California, but more has been learned about these creatures since.

The animal – just like this week’s dolphin - was collected by the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and taken to Portland State University. That was the first time that the university had the opportunity to perform a necropsy on this type of dolphin.

Boothe noted another interesting aspect of this kind of dolphin – known as Lissodelphis borealis – is that it does not have a dorsal fin. The find in 2008 was about three and a half feet in length; this one last week was 5.5 feet long.

Northern right whale dolphins are typified by short, thin beaks that contain 74 to 98 teeth, gently sloping foreheads and pointed flippers and tail flukes. They live on fish and squid, and are typically found in the Pacific around California, and in the southern oceans near Antartica, as well as Tazmania and New Zealand.

They are known as fast swimmers, reaching up to 40 kph. These dolphins often travel in V formations, communicating with each other with whistles and clicks. When young they are lighter in color, turning black after about a year.

Another slight rarity of this kind was found May 26, 2015: a Pacific White-Sided dolphin. That one was discovered in Ocean Park, Washington, and again picked up by the Seaside Aquarium. It was seven feet long and about 250 pounds. (See pictures below from Tiffany Booth, Seaside Aquarium).

Pacific White-Sided Dolphins are known for their exuberant behavior, leaping out of the water, belly flopping, somersaulting, and riding the bow waves of boats. They can live for a little over 40 years. Oregon Coast Lodgings for this - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

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Below: a striped dolphin found by the aquarium last year



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