CAPE MAY COUNTY COURTHOUSE, N.J. — Animal welfare officials say a dolphin stuck in a New Jersey creek for more than a week has died after a rescue attempt they say was attempted as a “last resort.”

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center said crews first tried to herd the bottlenose dolphin out of Skeeter Island Creek in Cape May Court House, where it was first reported May 16. But they said the efforts were unsuccessful despite the help of more than a dozen people and three boats using specialized herding equipment.

Officials said they were trying to get the animal out of the area to open water without physical capture and handling, which would pose significant danger to both the dolphin and responders. But they said they decided Friday to try an in-water capture “as a last resort” in this case.

So a net was deployed from the boats around the dolphin and it was brought toward shore, but “unfortunately, once inside the net, the dolphin immediately panicked and expired within two minutes.” A full necropsy is planned at the New Jersey Animal Health and Diagnostic Lab, officials said

“Our entire team is deeply saddened about this outcome,” the center said in a statement. “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.”

Officials said earlier, however, that a similar situation with another bottlenose dolphin occurred in August 2016 in the same creek, and in that case rescue efforts were successful and the dolphin was eventually returned to the bay.

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