Two dolphins of a species never before seen in Iceland washed ashore in Hrútafjörður in Northwest Iceland last week. RÚV reports that the carcasses of both mammals were collected yesterday by a biologist at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, who says it is not unlikely that the animals were drawn north by warming seas.
One of the dolphins was already dead when it washed ashore. The other beached itself trying to follow its companion. The second dolphin was not going to survive and so was euthanized under the advisement of a veterinarian just before the weekend.
The dolphins were both Risso’s dolphins, sometimes called gray dolphins. Their remains were collected by biologist Sverrir Daníel Halldórsson, who will conduct autopsies on both. Sverrir Daníel says he’s found no evidence that Risso’s dolphins have ever been observed around Iceland before, although they have been seen around the Faroe Islands.
“It’s a warm-water species,” he explained. “They’re found a bit to the east of Ireland and Northwest Scotland. But the largest number is found further south, in warmer seas.”
Sverrir Daníel thinks the dolphins were most likely drawn out of their natural habitat and so far to the north by warmer currents. Both animals appeared quite emaciated, he said. “It could be that they wandered off course and couldn’t find any food.”