Marine officials monitor mammal swimming in Mill Cove

Mon, 01/04/2021 - 6:30pm

    Mill Cove received an unexpected guest Jan. 4. George Friant spotted something swimming in a strange circular manner around 10:30 a.m. He called the Department of Marine Resources and Marine Mammals of Maine, but received recorded messages. He later contacted Boothbay Harbor Police Department, which notified MMM.

    “I looked into the cove and saw the dorsal fin. I thought it was odd to see something this time of year swimming in about two feet of water. Further observation noted it was swimming in a consistent clockwise direction,” Friant said.

    Around 11:30 a.m. Monday morning, four Marine Mammals of Maine representatives arrived in Boothbay Harbor to see if the mammal was in distress. Executive Director Lynda Doughty’s team observed the mammal for several hours. By noon, the team believed the mammal was either a dolphin or pilot whale. 

    “We are concerned about its behavior. They usually don’t swim in shallow water and in tight circles,” she said. “We can’t do a full health assessment because it’s not out of water. It’s too dangerous at this time, and we need to take precautions.”

    MMM officials returned Tuesday to Mill Cove at 6:30 a.m. to continue their observation. Doughty reported her team didn't find the mammal in the cove and began searching other locations. As of 8:30 a.m., the mammal wasn't spotted. "We will spend the rest of the day searching for it and we can't really make any determinations about its condition at this point," she said.

    MMM is based in Brunswick and covers marine mammal responses for reports of living and dead dolphins, whales and porpoises between Kittery and Rockland. Doughty reported the team would monitor the situation until darkness fell before deciding how to proceed. “It’s not common for them to swim this far north and close to shore, but it’s not unprecedented,” she said.  “It may be disoriented or distressed so we will continue monitoring it throughout the day.”

    This article has been updated from its original posting.