'Very rare' dolphin stranding in St Thomas

Friday, November 09, 2018

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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.

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