Two dolphins found stranded on Sandy Hook Bay sand bar

Photo by Michael McKenna - Marine Mammal Stranding Center

SANDY HOOK, NJ – Officials have confirmed the deaths and stranding of two dolphins in the Sandy Hook Bay on Wednesday.

Two common dolphins, an adult and a calf were found about 150 feet offshore on a sand bar. U.S. Navy officials alerted the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine which took samples from the dolphins.

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“The adult was deceased, and its body was in the process of being lifted and pulled out by the incoming tide. With the assistance of personnel from Naval Security Forces, Environmental Department, The National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (OHMSETT) and Public Affairs, MMSC staff and volunteers climbed over the guardrail of the pier and down the rocks to the marsh approximately fifteen feet below,” MMSC said. “The team hiked along marsh to the point where they were able to walk out on the sandbar to access the dolphin calf. Once the dolphin was secured in the stretcher, the team worked together to scale the rocks and carefully lifted the dolphin up on to the pier.”

The young dolphin was in a weakened state and the decision was made to humanely euthanize it.

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Conditions on Wednesday made the investigation difficult with whipping winds and temperatures in the low thirties. Accessibility was also an issue for MMSC staff.

MMSC reported that at approximately 5 pm on Wednesday, the body of the adult dolphin washed ashore in between NWS Earle eastern beach and Leonardo State Marina beach.

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“On Thursday morning MMSC staff returned to the scene to complete sampling and measurements of the dolphin, which was confirmed to be the same adult that stranded on Wednesday with the calf,” the MMSC said. “After sampling has been completed the dolphin will be buried on scene.” Thank you to the Leonardo State Park Police and Public Works Departments, and NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement for your assistance.”

With the increase in dolphin and whale strandings, the MMSC has reported a backlog in testing capability and is aksing local busineses who might be able to donate freezer space for carcasses for long term analyisis to contact them.

“We are again reaching out to any local business with commercial freezer space that may be able to assist in the storage of carcasses so they may be stored until the labs can accept submissions of larger animals over six feet long,” the MMSC said.

If you think you may be able to help, please call their office 609-266-0538.