GULFPORT, Mississippi — Scientists have found 4 more dead baby dolphins on Horn Island in the Mississippi Gulf of Mexico and another on Ono Island off Orange Beach, Ala., adding to the unusually high number of dead dolphins found in the past 2 months.
Scientists are working to find a cause. Researchers took tissue samples from the dolphins.
“With some, we’re not sure if they actually took a breath,” said Delphine Shannon, who handles strandings for the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.
The agency collects data on dolphins and sends daily reports to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries division.
So far, 28 dolphins of all ages have been found dead in the 2 states since the beginning of the year. There were 89 reported in all of 2010. IMMS director Moby Solangi said the cause of the dolphin deaths could be anything.
“I think it could be the environment. The cold weather. It could be their fisheries. Some changes in their food habits. It could be a cyclical change. Who knows? But we’re going to do a forensics study. We’re doing the necropsies, the pathology, the toxicology. And try to get to the bottom of it,” said Solangi.
Scientists have ruled out possible effects from the BP oil spill.
Solangi said it is happening early in the birthing season, which gets into full swing in March.
Blair Mase, NOAA’s stranding coordinator for the region, said her agency was watching the situation and trying to find out what was going on. “We’re trying to determine if we do in fact have stillbirths,” Mase said.