For beachgoers, seeing dolphins in the water off Ocean City is always a treat, but this year's annual dolphin count came up short, which could mean getting a glimpse of the animals may be more difficult.
The National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) recorded sightings of 31 Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins at the event held last Friday. More than 100 volunteers of all ages joined with about 30 aquarium workers at Assateague and Ocean City to help count the creatures at several locations throughout town.
This years dolphin count was significantly less than last years count of 107, which is considered relatively normal. Counting the dolphins can give scientists important data that helps them determine the overall health of the ecosystem, as well as the abundance of prey. This years drop is attributed to weather, large swells and food availability.
The National Aquarium team is incredibly thankful to all the volunteers who joined us for this years dolphin count, said Jennifer Dittmar, MARP Stranding Coordinator, in a press release. MARP has been responsible for rescuing stranded marine mammals and sea turtles on Delmarva peninsula since 1991.
Dolphins were counted from four locations - 40th Street, 130th Street, Assateague State Park and off of a Coast Guard boat.
In addition to the dolphin count, a fundraiser was held at Seacrets, raising more than $2,000 for MARP.