Aquarium investigating dolphin deaths along Virginia coast

In this image provided by the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, staff for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center attend to a stranded dolphin on Monday, March, 14, 2022, along a creek near the Chesapeake Bay on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. (Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center via AP)
Posted at 10:29 AM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 10:29:42-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is investigating the deaths of five dolphins who were found in shallow waters along the state’s coast.

The aquarium said in a statement that the dead dolphins are a species known as “common dolphins.” They are not typically found in shallow or inshore waters.

Aquarium biologists believe the deaths are not the result of interactions with humans, although there is not an obvious cause. Aquarium spokeswoman Mackenzie Di Nardo said last weekend’s storms likely played a role. Large weather events can precede strandings of offshore species.

Earlier this week, the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team received nearly a dozen phone calls for sightings and strandings. Locations included the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and further north along the bayside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The team identified four live dolphins stranded in shallow creeks as well as the five dead dolphins that were stranded on shore. There also was a group of approximately 10 dolphins moving freely in a shallow creek.

The team hoped the live dolphins would make it back to deeper water. Two dolphins stranded again Tuesday, prompting aquarium staff to help them.

The aquarium, which is in Virginia Beach, will conduct necropsies as they search for possible causes of death.