Katie Pugliares

Genetic Relatedness Among Mass Stranded Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA

The goal of Katie's project is to investigate the level of relatedness of mass stranded Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) through the use of microsatellites to determine if kinship is a factor in the mass stranding of this species.  Mass strandings of odontocetes have been documented along the shores of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for over a hundred years; however, a single primary cause for this phenomenon has yet to be determined.  These events are likely multi-causal, with each factor influenced by the complex social structure that is characteristic of these species.  The Atlantic white-sided dolphin is a lesser-studied cetacean that has been documented to mass strand in numbers up to 90+ individuals in the study area in focus.  This investigation will also consider elements that may influence the dynamics of a group including gender, age structure, season, and size of stranding group.  The overall goal is to contribute to current knowledge of the life history of L. acutus in a way that will provide stranding responders with information that will assist with logistical planning during mass strandings and ultimately decrease mortality.

For more information regarding this research, please contact Katie at

For additional information regarding mass strandings on Cape Cod please visit the International  Fund for Animal Welfare Marine Mammal Rescue and Research