‘Very rare’ dol­phin strand­ing in St Thomas

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - NEWS -

WHILE not­ing that a strand­ing of dol­phins along the is­land’s coast­line is very rare and un­for­tu­nate, the Na­tional En­vi­ron­ment and Plan­ning Agency (NEPA) says it will be sur­vey­ing the area of White Sand Beach in Hol­land Bay, St Thomas, for other strand­ings and in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pos­si­ble cause of the in­ci­dents.

The agency is­sued a state­ment yes­ter­day after four dol­phins were stranded in the area, in two sep­a­rate in­ci­dents, within three days.

Monique Cur­tis, man­ager, Ecosys­tems Man­age­ment Branch, NEPA, is quoted in the re­lease as say­ing: “We ac­knowl­edge the col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort and speedy re­sponse from rel­e­vant agen­cies and stake­hold­ers within the area, par­tic­u­larly Mr Everal Davis, who re­ported the in­ci­dent, and the Golden Grove Sugar Fac­tory, which provided as­sis­tance.”

Ac­cord­ing to the NEPA re­lease, at ap­prox­i­mately 8:30 am Wed­nes­day, the agency re­ceived a re­port of a stranded dol­phin along the White Sand Beach in Hol­land Bay. A team from NEPA, the Vet­eri­nary Ser­vices Divi­sion and the Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, Ja­maica re­sponded to the re­port, which re­vealed that the an­i­mal had al­ready died, the re­lease said.

Ar­range­ments were made to dis­pose of the re­mains of the mam­mal, it con­tin­ued.

How­ever, Wed­nes­day’s in­ci­dent is the sec­ond of its kind in three days, as a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent in­volv­ing three dol­phins oc­curred on Mon­day, in the same vicin­ity.

“Upon ar­rival that day, the re­sponse team dis­cov­ered two of the an­i­mals had al­ready died. Sev­eral un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts were made to re-float the an­i­mal that was still alive. Vet­eri­nary pro­fes­sion­als on lo­ca­tion fi­nally de­ter­mined that con­tin­ued at­tempts to re-float the an­i­mal would be fu­tile. The an­i­mal was sub­se­quently eu­thanised,” NEPA said.

Ac­cord­ing to NEPA, the species iden­ti­fied on the beach has been con­firmed to be the pygmy killer whale (Feresa at­ten­u­ata), which is a small mem­ber of the oceanic dol­phin fam­ily. Pygmy killer whales pre­fer deeper ar­eas of warmer trop­i­cal and sub­trop­i­cal wa­ters, it said.

Ac­cord­ing to Utech Ja Lec­turer Chris­tine O’sul­li­van, who as­sisted the re­sponse team: “In or­der to prop­erly re­spond to strand­ings, we need to es­tab­lish a marine mam­mal strand­ing net­work across the is­land in or­der to pro­vide the an­i­mals with the best care pos­si­ble. It is also im­por­tant to try and de­ter­mine what may be af­fect­ing the an­i­mals and find so­lu­tions to ad­dress this.”

In the re­lease yes­ter­day, NEPA also re­minded the pub­lic to im­me­di­ately con­tact the agency at 1-888-991-5005 or 876-754-7540 to re­port the sight­ing of sick, in­jured, en­tan­gled, stranded, or dead marine an­i­mals so that re­spon­ders can take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.

(Photo: NEPA)

One of the dol­phins that died after be­ing stranded along White Sand Beach in Hol­land Bay, St Thomas, in two sep­a­rate in­ci­dents within three days.

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