The National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team was joined by volunteers on Friday, July 20, for the 15th Annual Maryland Dolphin Count. This year, 31 dolphins were sighted.
More than 100 volunteers of all ages came out between 9–11 a.m. to help record dolphin sightings at two locations in Ocean City, MD — beaches on 40th Street and 130th Street. Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists capture a snapshot look at dolphin populations, reproduction rates and ocean health. Looking at the population numbers over the years can help to determine the health of the coastal ecosystem as well as the abundance of prey.
During the 2011 dolphin count, 107 dolphins were recorded, which is relatively normal. This year’s count is lower and is likely a result of several factors, including the weather, bigger swells and food availability.
“The National Aquarium team is incredibly thankful to all the volunteers who joined us for this year’s Dolphin Count,” said Jennifer Dittmar, Marine Animal Rescue Program Stranding Coordinator.
The evening before the annual count, a fundraiser was held at Seacrets: Jamaica USA, which raised $2,000 for MARP.
For more information on MARP and how the general public can assist with rescue efforts, visit aqua.org/care.