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March 15th - Dolphin Stranding in Bluffton with Apparent Boat Strike Injuries

We received a call on the evening of March 15th about a deceased dolphin stranded near the Palmetto Bluff neighborhood in Bluffton. We reached out to one of our partners in that area, Amber Kuehn, who was able to find a boater who could quickly locate the animal.

Because the dolphin was far up on an oyster beds, it could not be safely secured. The boaters were able to provide photographs. Photos showed a freshly dead sub-adult/adult male bottlenose dolphin. The intestines were expelled and there appeared to be two linear boat propeller strikes near the genital slit. There also appeared to be a large engine burn mark on the left side.

The following morning, boaters checked the location again and unfortunately, the dolphin was no longer there as a result of the tides.

Because we were not able to retrieve the dolphin and conduct a thorough exam, it can't be confirmed that the boat strike is what caused mortality or if it occurred after the animal was already deceased.

Boat Strikes & Dolphins

Dolphins living in coastal, urbanized areas face numerous natural and human-related threats. Of the human-related threats, boat strikes are one of the most common. A study from the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program found that a boat passes by a Sarasota Bay dolphin every 6 minutes and 1 in 20 dolphins in Sarasota Bay has a scar from a boat collision.

Boat strikes can lead to severe injuries or mortality to the animal as well as people on the boat, depending on the speed of the vessel. Safe and responsible boating is critical in reducing these kinds of interactions and protecting this sentinel species.

Wildlife Awareness & Viewing Etiquette (W.A.V.E.)

In response to boat strikes and other negative human interactions that persist towards our local dolphins, LMMN has launched an educational W.A.V.E. workshop that discusses our local marine mammals in depth, the laws and regulations in place to protect them, and responsible viewing guidelines we all should be following.

More info on these workshops can be found on the "W.A.V.E. Workshops" page under the Events tab.

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