CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — A bottlenose dolphin that refused to leave a creek died when it panicked during a rescue attempt Friday morning.

The dolphin was first noticed in Skeeter Island Creek in Cape May Court House on May 16. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center monitored the dolphin while trying to lure it out without touching or handling it. Special equipment was brought in to herd it from the creek.

When those methods failed, they tried a riskier physical capture. According to the MMS, this puts both the animal and humans in danger.

Rescuers dropped a net around the dolphin but it immediately began to struggle. Within two minutes it was dead. It was taken to the New Jersey Animal Health and Diagnostic Lab for a necropsy. Samples will also be prepared to submit the body for acoustic testing.

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Map shows Skeeter Island Creek in Cape May Court House
Map shows Skeeter Island Creek in Cape May Court House (Canva)

Stressful situation for dolphin, humans

"Our entire team is deeply saddened about this outcome. Out of habitat cetaceans are the most difficult scenario in marine mammal rescue. As animals that live in the open ocean, this type of habitat is foreign to them and causes immense stress, making the chances of rescue and survival slim," the center said in a statement.

The dolphin is the eighth to become stranded at the Jersey Shore in May and the 22nd this year.

Dolphin "stuck" in a creek in Cape May County (MMSC Facebook)
Dolphin "stuck" in a creek in Cape May County (MMSC Facebook)

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