The adult male bottlenose dolphin that washed ashore at Jones Beach Tuesday afternoon died after being picked up by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
At about 1:30 p.m., the foundation dispatched a team to collect the 9-foot, 500-pound dolphin that stranded itself on the beach on the east side of Field 6.
The dolphin was still alive when they got there, according to Julika Wocial, rescue program supervisor for the foundation, but was euthanized en route to Riverhead.
"We euthanized the dolphin in the truck," Wocial said. "We knew we had to put the animal down because we are the only organization to have a rehabilitation tank in the state and we didn't have a tank to put him in. The only one we currently have is in use by a dolphin we rescued in June."
Wocial said the dolphin was found alive but in bad condition.
"He kept going into shock,” Wocial said.
She said the Riverhead Foundation will perform a necropsy tomorrow.
Wocial said the dolphin appeared to be underweight and have a significant number of parasites all over its tail and body, which could point to illness.
When dolphins become stranded on the beach, there’s a slim chance of survival, she said.
“Once they hit the beach there’s only a 5 percent chance they’ll make it through rehabilitation to be released back into the wild,” she said. “They usually die on the beach or within 48 hours of being admitted into rehabilitation.”
Wocial said when she and her colleagues arrived at the beach, they saw members of the public trying to push the dolphin back out to sea, which she said is not safe and could cause additional harm.
“It’s a natural reaction to try pushing the dolphin back into the water, but in most cases they come ashore because they can’t swim anymore,” she said. “We discourage the public from doing this because of the disease it might carry and it’s only prolonging the animal’s suffering.”