, 2015

Smith Point Sea Rescue
responds to ‘dolphin’ call

REEDVILLE—Smith Point Sea Rescue responds to calls from boaters in distress including groundings, mechanical failures, fuel issues, getting lost and—dead dolphins.

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“On April 29, we had probably the most unusual mission in Sea Rescue’s 35-year history,” said Capt. Billy Sylvia. “We got a call from residents of Mill Creek off of the Great Wicomico River that they needed something towed from Mill Creek to Ingram Bay Marina.” 

The something was an 8-foot 10-inch dead dolphin weighing approximately 500 pounds. When Rescue I arrived on scene a heavy line had been attached to the tail of the dolphin, reported Sylvia. Rescue I carefully towed the dolphin through very rough seas around to the marina where two members of the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program from Virginia Beach were waiting.

The response team had all the right equipment to load the animal on their truck less the ability to get the dolphin close to their truck, he said. Using a forklift, the dolphin was brought up to the waiting truck. 

The dolphin was taken to Virginia Beach to try to determine the cause of death, added Sylvia.

Since last July, some 1,200 dead dolphins have been reported along the east coast from Florida to New York, 350 of them in Virginia. Three more dead dolphins washed up in Hampton Roads in early April.

Officials have attributed most of the deaths to morbillivirus, which attacks a number of vital organs and is similar to distemper in dogs.

The Virginia Aquarium advises the public not to touch any dolphins that wash ashore, and to immediately report the discovery by calling 757-385-7575.

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