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National Aquarium asks beachgoers to help count dolphins

The National Aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue Program staff is inviting the public to go to the beach with them and look for dolphins.

On Friday, July 20, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., the National Aquarium will conduct its annual effort to collect information on the number of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. This species — which can also be found in the Baltimore aquarium — uses Maryland waters for migration, feeding and summertime breeding.

The event, which has been held since 1997, encourages volunteers to collect data that helps provide a picture of the animals' populations and reproductive rates.

"The event is great to get the public involved," said Jennifer Dittmar, who is a coordinator with the rescue program. "A lot of animals we see are injured from humans, whether it be from waste or boats, so this is a good way to teach [people] about the animals."

Volunteers will log simple observations such as the number of dolphins in each group, and whether there are any infants in the group. There is no experience required to participate, according to Dittmar, and staff members from the aquarium will be there to help fill out data and explain some of the dolphin behavior that the spotters are sure to see.

Those interested can join at any of the designated locations, which are at Assateague State Park (in the day-use area); and in Ocean City at 40th and 130th streets.

ncafferky@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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