Dolphin deaths soar in Gulf of Mexico
ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s been a bad year for dolphin standings in the Gulf of Mexico.
Since Feb. 1, 261 dolphins have stranded themselves along the beaches from Florida’s panhandle to Louisiana, according to a report from the National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration. The majority of these strandings are for Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
The NOAA report said the number is three times higher than normal and has declared it an “Unusual Mortality Event” or UME.
“It is too early to determine any potential causes of the UME,” the reports said. “Many of the dolphins recovered are very decomposed, limiting the ability to collect samples to determine cause of illness or death. In addition, a number of dolphins have stranded in remote locations, which limits the Stranding Network’s ability to examine or recover the carcass.”
Some of the stranded dolphins, though, have shown signs of skin lesions that could be from freshwater exposure, the report said.
Samples from the deceased dolphins have been collected and will be tested by investigators from the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events.
NOAA advises not to push the animal back out to sea. Stranded marine mammals may be sick or injured. Returning animals to sea delays examination and treatment and often results in the animal re-stranding in worse condition.