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MERR looking for volunteers for annual dolphin count

MERR Institute
The Marine, Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute in Lewes will hold its annual dolphin count later this month.

The Marine, Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute in Lewes is gearing up for its annual dolphin count.

MERR is looking for additional volunteers for its 18th annual count on July 21st.

MERR spokesman Rob Rector explains what those volunteers do.

“We have essentially 39 observation points that are set up everywhere between Fenwick Island and Woodland Beach, which is just north of Bombay Hook; so its about 75 miles of coastline. We have about 100 volunteers, usually, every year and they sit out and observe from 9 o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock,” Rector said.

Rector says in a good year, volunteers count about 400 dolphins swimming off Delaware’s coast during the two-hour time frame.


Rector notes that rarely is the same dolphin ever counted twice.


"The forms that we provide all of our volunteers, we give them places to mark off where, they mark off the time of the sighting and the direction of travel of the dolphin as well too, so we don’t double-dip on the dolphins there,” said Rector.

He says results help determine the population stability in Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins in the region.

Rector points out they’ll compare this year’s numbers to past numbers and numbers from other organizations in the Northeast who monitor bottlenose dolphin to ensure the stability of their population.


If you’d like to volunteer for this year’s dolphin count, call the MERR Institute at 302-228-5029 to sign up.


Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.