Baby dolphins, some barely three feet in length, are washing up along the Mississippi and Alabama shorelines at about 10 times the normal number for the first two months of the year, researchers are finding.
As now February 17th, seventeen young dolphins, either aborted before they reached maturity or dead soon after birth, have been collected on the coasts of the states in the past two weeks, both on the barrier islands and mainland beaches.
This is the first birthing season for dolphins since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; however, Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, said it’s too early to tell why they died.
Today the count is up to 24 stillborn or infant calves that have washed ashore in the two states.
What’s happening here falls under the formal designation of an Unusual Mortality Event, which requires special scrutiny by a panel of scientists and experts, and gives high priority to samples collected.
But scientists caution about jumping to conclusions because a number of factors can cause dolphin deaths.
We’ll be keep our eye on this story as it develops. Stay tuned.