Rescuers are struggling to save more than 100 dolphins that have beached themselves on the shores of Cape Cod, Mass., over the past two weeks in what could be the largest single-species stranding ever in the northeast.
The dolphins are washing up along the rocky shoreline in groups of as many of 10. At least 80 of them have already died.
"As of right now we're looking at about 116 since the 12th of January. We're not really sure why the number is continuing to climb," said Brian Sharp, a representative of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
One of the theories is that dolphins searching for food get caught in low tides, which push them to shore.
"When the water level drops, these animals can come ashore and become stranded," Sharp said.
Hundreds of volunteers are trying to save the dolphins, and trying to prevent them from stranding again by releasing the rescued dolphins in deep water. Early signs indicate that their strategy is working.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has already rescued 31 dolphins and outfitted them with satellite tags so they can track where they head next.
"Right now we're at around 66 percent. We release them off of beaches where it gets deep quite quickly. From all these signs that we've seen from this event, the satellite tags look very good," Sharp said.
At least one patient has a shot at a new life, he said.
"We had a pregnant female dolphin that we were able to release," Sharp said. "We began doing our health exam and sure enough we discovered that the dolphin was pregnant with probably a third trimester calf."