Number of dolphin deaths in Gulf Coast of US triples in 2019 | Eurasia Diary -

21 October, Monday

Number of dolphin deaths in Gulf Coast of US triples in 2019

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The number of stranded dolphins across the Gulf Coast has jumped, tripling the number of deaths so far this year, a scientific agency warned on June 14, The Epoch Times reports.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed at least 279 dolphins were stranded across much of the Gulf of Mexico since the beginning of February. The figure represents triple the usual number and about 98 percent of them have died already.

Scientists are preparing to investigate whether the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill disaster, reduced salinity from freshwater flowing from high rivers to the gulf, and a Louisiana spillway helped cause the deaths.

“We do know some of the health conditions … are improving but some have been slow to improve,” NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program Coordinator Teri Rowles told The Associated Press. “Reproduction in the heaviest-oiled areas continues below normal.”

Rowles said 70 percent of the carcasses were too decomposed for necropsy.

Earlier reports blame the oil spill for causing lung and adrenal gland conditions in the dolphins, creating stress-related hormones, blood abnormalities, and generally poor condition. The reports also accused the spill of causing the gulf’s largest and longest dolphin die-off.

About 23 percent of the dolphins stranded between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle showed evidence of sores, which are consistent with freshwater exposure, according to NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Region Marine Mammal Stranding Program Administrator Erin Fougères.

NOAA’s website said such lesions are “not uncommon” in the springtime.

“[Freshwater exposure] does not appear to be the cause of death for all animals, so that’s something we’re continuing to investigate,” Fougères said.

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