CRYSTAL BEACH — Two dolphins that washed ashore on Crystal Beach during Tropical Storm Edouard were released back into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after getting a clean bill of health from biologists.
The dolphins found stranded in a sand dune were likely pushed ashore by a storm surge said Heidi Whitehead state operations coordinator for the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
There was a storm surge of 2 to 3 feet on Bolivar Peninsula during the tropical storm said Debbie Helvy a meteorologist technician with the National Weather Service in League City.
The dolphins were unlike any other stranded dolphins Whitehead has rescued before because they seemed healthy — not sick or emaciated — leading Whitehead to think they became disoriented in the storm she said.
The dolphins found 50 yards apart were stranded for at least two hours Whitehead said.
They were able to survive partly because of the actions of the family who found them she said.
A family discovered the dolphins while cruising the beach for a fishing spot about 3 p.m. Tuesday.
They called the stranding network dug holes in the sand under their pectoral fins and filled cups up with water to keep them wet Whitehead said.
Network volunteers carried the dolphins in a truck across the ferry to a NOAA fisheries service laboratory in Galveston where they placed them in an inflatable pool.
The stranding network received reports that a third dolphin washed ashore but a beach-goer pushed it back into the gulf Whitehead said. Network volunteers and Galveston County Sheriff’s deputies scoured the beach to see if it stranded again but they couldn’t find it Whitehead said.
She discourages people from pushing stranded dolphins back into the water because they often wash ashore again and then die.
She encourages those who find dolphins to call the stranding network hot line.
Network volunteers watched the pair all night and monitored their breathing patterns.
On Wednesday Whitehead and volunteers loaded the dolphins in stretchers placed them on foam pads in a pickup and drove them out to Crystal Beach where they released them back into the ocean. They were fitted with identification tags.
The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals through rescue and rehabilitation research and education.