Stranded dolphin sighted near SFO thought dead

A staff veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Center believes a stranded dolphin spotted in shallow waters near San Francisco International Airport Tuesday morning may be dead, center officials have said in a statement.

Dr. Cara Field said in a statement:

“Unfortunately, the Risso’s dolphin has not moved or changed its position throughout the day on the soft mud. … Since cetacean bodies are not designed to be on solid surfaces, it’s unlikely that the cetacean is still alive.”

The dolphin had been spotted as early as Saturday and was seen circling the area’s shallow waters several times that day before becoming stranded about 400 meters from shore on mudflats this morning, according to center officials.

The animal is in an area inaccessible by land or water because of low tide conditions, but crews are working to recover the animal or perform a field necropsy.

Risso’s dolphins are an open water species and usually travel in pods, which are not known to frequent the San Francisco Bay.

Because the animal entered the Bay, presumably alone, mammal center officials believe it may be sick or perhaps just took a wrong turn.

Risso’s dolphins can grow more than 12 feet long and weigh up to 1,100 pounds. Additionally, they prefer warm, temperate and tropical water offshore habitats, mammal center officials said.

Throughout its 41-year history, the Marine Mammal Center has responded to 10 incidents involving Risso’s dolphins. This year alone, the center has already responded to 27 incidents involving cetaceans, a group of marine mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.