Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response team honored in Hampton Roads

Posted at 10:19 AM, Apr 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-21 10:21:44-04

Virginia Beach, Va. – The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program was honored under the Nonprofit Volunteer Program category at the 39th Hampton Roads Volunteer Achievement Awards event, held earlier in April.

The Stranding Response Team is comprised of about 80 volunteers who perform a variety of tasks both on and off site to support the staff with both live and dead marine mammals and sea turtles, officials say.

In 2013, the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team played a vital role during the Aquarium’s response to the largest unusual dolphin mortality event in 25 years.

The team normally responds to approximately 100 stranded marine mammals per year, according to Aquarium officials.

Over the course of a four month time span, (July through October), staff and volunteers were responding, recovering and examining more than 340 dolphins that had stranded sick, injured, or dead on Virginia’s beaches.

Teams of volunteers were organized each day for tiresome hours of field response covering more than 2,000 miles of coastline, according to Virginia Aquarium officials. Field response involves dirty, heavy physical work to respond to stranded animals, sometimes in remote areas.

Volunteers worked extra shifts, often working full days collecting carcasses, cleaning gear, organizing samples, helping to care for rehabilitation patients and much more.

In 2013 alone, volunteers donated more than 16,500 hours to strandings, 194 of those specifically for outreach events within the community.

Read more information from the Virginia Aquarium, HERE.

Previous coverage on dolphin deaths: 

More dead dolphins wash up in Hampton Roads

Over 300 dead dolphins recovered from Virginia beaches

Dead dolphins starting to wash up in North Carolina

Increases in Navy explosion, sonar activity underwater could hurt millions of dolphins and whales

25 more dead dolphins washed up over the weekend; Total now 164

Virus believed to be behind large number of dolphin deaths on East Coast