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Harbor porpoise strands in Snohomish County

Both our hotline and Edmonds Seal Sitters received calls about a “dolphin” washed up on a beach north of Edmonds. The animal turned out to be a harbor porpoise, likely a subadult in fairly good condition, with no obvious trauma or visible cause of death. Volunteers took photos, measurements, location information and secured the animal for pickup by a NOAA researcher for necropsy. Recovering the bodies of dead marine mammals is valuable to science and the environment. These necropsies allow us a window not only into the health of the population, but the health of the Sound as well.

Harbor porpoise, the smallest of the porpoise family at 5-5.5 feet long, are local to Puget Sound. They have a grey back and lighter to white belly. The dorsal, or top fin on their back, is a small triangle which differs from the more well-known dolphin with the classic curved dorsal fin. Washington’s largest and best known marine mammals, orcas, are actually the largest of the dolphin species with their distinctive tall, curved dorsal.

If you find a dead or live stranded dolphin or whale on the beach, do not touch or move it. Call the stranding network and keep people and dogs away for both their safety and the safety of the animal. To find your local stranding network and to learn more about strandings, click here.
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