(GULFPORT, Miss.) -- Recent discoveries of dead dolphins along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines are being described as “an unusual mortality event” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Thirty-four dolphins have already been washed up along shorelines this year – 27 of them calves. Eighteen of the dolphins were found in Mississippi, while another 16 were found on the Alabama coastline. These figures put dolphin deaths at an amount 12 times higher than the 30-year average for the months of January and February, and experts are trying to find out what has caused the recent spike in fatalities.
The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf occurred during the bottlenose dolphin mating season, and there is speculation that something bacterial or viral may be causing female dolphins to abort, but that theory has yet to be confirmed.
The Institute of Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) says it is collecting samples from the animals and will conduct analyses for toxicology, histopathology, virology and parisitology. Results from these analyses will take some time to be processed.
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