A struggling dolphin had to be euthanized after it was pushed from the shore back into the water by members of the public, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

In a Facebook post, the Brigantine-based nonprofit organization noted that it was contacted on Wednesday about a stranded dolphin on the banks of the Shrewsbury River. By that time, it had already been moved back into the water by passersby, the nonprofit said.

Volunteers local to the Highlands area were dispatched to the scene and, with assistance from local officials, a search ensued.

A dolphin was eventually located approximately 150 years from a pier, hidden by vegetation, the Center said.

A team hiked through the vegetation to assess the condition of the dolphin, which was still alive. The marine division of the New Jersey State Police dispatched one of their vessels to the area so that the dolphin could be transported to the MMSC stranding vehicle.

"After veterinary assessment it was determined that the dolphin was in poor body condition and very weak," the Facebook post says. "The decision was made to humanely euthanize the animal to prevent further suffering."

The dolphin was immediately transported to a lab in Trenton, where a necropsy is taking place. Updates will be made when results become available.

The Center says the public should never push a stranded animal back into deeper water. Doing so may prolong an animal's suffering and could prevent potential medical intervention.

"Animals will often re-strand in a different location in worse condition, and as in this case, more difficult areas to access the animal for rescue," the Facebook post says.

The discovery comes days after three dolphins died along Sandy Hook, and at a time when environment advocates and mayors are pushing officials to halt offshore wind activity until an investigation into a rash of whale deaths is completed.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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