MERR Institute holds annual dolphin count

LEWES, Del. – On Saturday, volunteers at the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute gathered along different points of Delaware’s coast to count Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Their aim is to help to determine its population stability while learning more about the ocean’s health.

“So, it’s important to keep tabs on them and just because they also represent what’s going on in the ocean and how healthy the ocean habitat may be,” said Suzanne Thurman, executive director at the MERR Institute.

Volunteers worked in pairs to help count the dolphins.

They say they’ll only get to see them for a second making it harder for them to get an exact count.

“It’s hard to get an exact count because we only get to see them for a second or so and we do try to look for the young calves, the neophytes and identify them as well,” said Jim Ford, a volunteer.

“So, they have a smaller fin and they come out of the water a little bit more,” said Ford.

But volunteers tell 47ABC this year they’ve spotted more dolphins than last year and according to the MERR Institute, Saturday’s weather and waves made a difference in their research for a healthier ocean.

“Every year is different,” said Thurman.

“It depends on the weather, it depends on the waves and the tides and certainly, dolphins are going to be present when they are following the fish, so if the fish are near shore as they have been lately then the dolphins are going to be closer,” said Thurman.

The MERR Institute tells 47ABC they had fewer volunteers this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, they say this change did not make a significant impact on their research today.

Thurman says they will get the final results of Saturday’s research by early next week.

Categories: Delaware, Top Stories