Two dolphins were found early Monday, July 6, on the beach at San Simeon Cove.
The adult marine mammal was dead when it was spotted under the San Simeon Pier. The baby dolphin, found somewhat north of that, died as trained rescuers frantically tried to keep it alive, even though they knew the odds were heavily stacked against that effort being successful.
It’s not known yet whether the two short-beak common dolphins were together, perhaps as mother and her about 3-foot-long baby.
“It was heartbreaking, so sad” to hear the dying baby calling out, said Carolyn Skinder, program coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s southern region. She was one of those called for the rescue effort.
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Officials say they don’t yet know what killed the animals.
Skinder said the carcasses have been shipped to Sausalito, where scientists will do necropsies (the animal equivalent of an autopsy). They hope to determine whether the two dolphins were related, and what may have killed them.
Both dolphins “were a good weight, beautiful animals,” said rescuer Margaret “P.J.” Webb, longtime volunteer with The Marine Mammal Center and president of the sanctuary’s advisory council.
She and Skinder lauded Cubby Cashen of Sea For Yourself Kayaks at the cove, who was the first to call the mammal center about the dolphins.
“Cubby was so helpful in this situation and so many times in the past,” Webb said. “He is a valuable asset to our community looking out for the wildlife in the cove and assisting in their protection.”
The night before the dolphins were found, Skinder said, there had been a substantial influx of small fish in the cove area — a phenomenon often referred to as a “bait ball” — which frequently attracts lots of marine mammals and birds.
Since 1975, The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito has rescued and treated thousands of marine mammals — elephant seals, sea lions, whales, sea otters, harbor seals, fur seals, dolphins, harbor porpoises and more — many of which are threatened or endangered species.
If you see stranded marine mammals, call The Marine Mammal Center’s triage facility in Morro Bay at 771-8300. You’ll be notifying people who can and will do something quickly — highly trained volunteers in boats, boots and even wet suits.
For details about what to do if you see a stranded mammal, search the organization’s website, www.tmmc.org for “seven steps.”