Dolphin euthanized after being found stranded on Carolina Beach

Published: May. 23, 2014 at 2:23 PM EDT|Updated: May. 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM EDT
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A dolphin was found stranded in the 700 block of Carolina Beach Ave. north early Thursday...
A dolphin was found stranded in the 700 block of Carolina Beach Ave. north early Thursday morning. (Source: WECT)

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) - A dolphin was found stranded in the 700 block of Carolina Beach Ave. North early Thursday morning.

According to New Hanover County Dispatch, Carolina Beach Police were the first to the scene and called UNCW Marine Wildlife to assist.

Members of the UNCW Marine Wildlife arrived and confirmed that it was a Risso's dolphin, a species that usually dwells over 60 miles from shore. They helped keep the dolphin comfortable while waiting for the veterinarian to arrive.

The veterinarian, Claire Hohenwarter, arrived on scene and assessed the dolphin's condition. Hohenwarter said that the dolphin, "looked to have something that was a chronic condition because she's emaciated and has lots of wounds on her. She's lost a lot of weight and I suspect that she was coming ashore to die."

Hohenwarter determined the dolphin's condition was extremely poor and the best action was to euthanize. The dolphin was euthanized on scene and transported to UNCW for an autopsy. Officials will be testing for the morbillivirus among other things.

According to the Director of Marine Mammal Stranding program, Ann Pabst, the dolphin was very sick, suffered shark bites, and was emaciated. She went on to say that typically only one or two of these types of dolphin will strand per year.

Preliminary tests show that the dolphin had an abnormality in it's lungs and that it had systemic involvement in it's lymphatic system. Pabst said that could mean the dolphin had been fighting some sort of a disease.

She said they were unable to tell from the initial tests if the dolphin suffered from the morbillivirus, a virus that has killed around 1,200 bottle-nose dolphins in the past year, more 250 of those dolphins washed up in North Carolina alone.

Pabst said they should have test results back in about two weeks which will show if this dolphin had the morbillivirus.

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