Dol­phin deaths soar in Gulf of Mex­ico

Lodi News-Sentinel - - NATION - By Richard Tri­bou

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.

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