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Volunteers rescue seven stranded dolphins in Wellfleet

One of the seven rescued dolphins in Wellfleet.IFAW

An animal welfare group on Wednesday rescued seven Atlantic white-sided dolphins that had become stranded on “the shallow gut” of Herring River in Wellfleet, the organization said.

In a statement, the Yarmouth-based International Fund for Animal Welfare said staff and volunteers arrived on scene to render aid to the trapped creatures around 8 a.m. Wellfleet, the statement said, is a spot where dolphins are commonly stranded, owing to its hook shape within the Cape Cod shoreline, and due to significant tidal fluctuations in Cape Cod Bay.

The group said it used cooling blankets on the dolphins that, when soaked in water, help maintain a healthy body temperature for mammals in hot weather.

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Once they were secured, all seven dolphins got a lift in IFAW’s mobile rescue clinic van to a deeper water release site off Provincetown, according to the statement, which said the van is custom-designed to meet the needs of a recognized “global stranding hotspot” on the Cape.

The van allows IFAW experts and veterinarians to treat as many as nine dolphins at a time for stranding-induced dehydration and shock.

All told, the statement said, more than 40 staff, interns, AmeriCorps members, and trained volunteers lent a hand Wednesday in Wellfleet.

“Today’s rescue and release went about as smoothly as we could hope, thanks to incredible support from our IFAW volunteer responders, AmeriCorps Cape Cod and this local community,” said Misty Niemeyer, animal rescue officer for IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue & Research team, in the statement.

“The largest and final released dolphin did appear a bit stressed, and we fitted that dolphin with a temporary satellite tag to monitor its success,” Niemeyer said. “We released the dolphins in three rounds, and eventually all swam off strong into deeper water. We are optimistic about their journey ahead.”

The dramatic rescue comes after another creature of the deep made waves on the Cape Sunday afternoon.

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That’s when two fishermen took video and photographs of a large orca — better known as a killer whale — swimming in waters about 48 miles east of Nantucket

“He came alongside the boat and was kind of just checking us out,” said Captain Jerry Leeman of the Teresa Marie IV, which came tantalizingly close to the orca. “It got alongside the boat about 15 feet and was kind of just easing along with us as we were towing. Then he just kind of went off on his own.”

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.