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May 22, 2024

Bottlenose dolphin is stuck in a Cape May County creek, rescue attempt being planned

Marine Mammal Stranding Center staff have tried to coax the animal out of the area since it was reported to the organization last week.

Wildlife Dolphins
dolphin cape may creek @marinemammalstrandingcenternj/Instagram

A bottlenose dolphin has been stuck in a creek in Cape May Court House since at least Thursday. The Marine Mammal Rescue Center is monitoring the dolphin but has been unsuccessful at coaxing it to leave.

A wayward bottlenose dolphin has been stuck in a small creek in Cape May County for several days, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

The MMSC, a rescue organization based in Brigantine, has been monitoring the mammal since it was reported to them Thursday. MMSC staff and certified stranding volunteers have been checking on the dolphin multiple times a day. On Saturday, a rescue team was on the water in two boats trying to "encourage the dolphin to move out," according to an Instagram post, but the dolphin would not leave.

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On Tuesday morning, the MMSC received specialized equipment from a Stranding Network partner from out of state. The organization is planning another rescue attempt this week but has not shared details on the mission because they "do not want unauthorized people to interfere with the rescue efforts or make any attempts to move the animal on their own."

"We are reminding the public that dolphins are Federally-protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act," the MMSC team wrote on Instagram. "Please do not attempt to approach the dolphin as that will only further increase the stress on the animal and hamper rescue efforts. We are very appreciative of the local residents and officials who have been assisting MMSC."

The dolphin does not appear injured and there is nothing "physically stopping" it from leaving the creek in Cape May Court House, a community located within Middle Township, MMSC stranding coordinator Jay Pagel told the Press of Atlantic City. There would eventually be a lack of food in the small area if the dolphin remains there. Bottlenose dolphins are carnivores that usually eat bottom-dwelling fish, but they also are known to consume shrimp and squid. 

The dolphin stranded in Cape May County is about 7 feet long, Pagel said. It is not fully grown but is no longer a juvenile. Bottlenose dolphins average between 10-14 feet in size.

Bottlenose dolphins swim in all tropical and temperate seas. They are generally social creatures that live in groups called pods, which can contain hundreds of dolphins. Some populations stay local while others migrate extensively. In South Jersey, bottlenose dolphins migrate to the Cape May area every year during warmer months to mate and give birth. 

Back in 2016, there was another dolphin reported in the same section of the creek. In that case, the dolphin was rescued by MMSC staff and volunteers. The mammal was removed from the creek before being transported east and released in the Delaware Bay.

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