Marine rescue workers were scanning a small Nova Scotia harbour on Monday for a pod of wayward dolphins after three of the animals washed up dead on shore.
Andrew Reid of the Marine Animal Response Society was trying to determine if any of the roughly 15 dolphins that were seen last week in the Merigomish Harbour area were still there.
“We just want to find out if there are more animals in the harbour and if there are, get them out,” he said from the site.
The remains of two of the common male dolphins were discovered by a passerby last week, while a third was found on the shore of Big Island on Sunday.
The area is tricky for the animals to navigate because it has a narrow opening near Big Island, and is closed by a long sandbar at the other end.
“They’re just unable to find their way out and oftentimes, once they can’t get out they often strand (themselves),” he said. “This is a species that is typically found further offshore, but it’s possible they were following fish in.”
Reid said preliminary examinations indicate the animals had no obvious health problems aside from being somewhat thin, adding to the suspicion that they became caught in the bay as they chased fish in. Necropsies were done on the animals, which were spotted by a local resident.
If the pod is still in the harbour, Reid said they may use two or three boats to try to guide any remaining dolphins back out to open ocean.
The animals were first seen in the area last Wednesday. Reid said whales and dolphins have become trapped in the harbour before.
“It’s probably not out of the ordinary. It does happen occasionally,” he said.
In late September, seven Atlantic white-sided dolphins became similarly stranded in a shallow bay in Lameque, N.B., with one dying two days later. The remaining six were eventually coaxed back to open ocean.