More baby dolphins than usual are dying and washing up on Coast shores; troubling news not only for marine scientists, but also for our ecosystem. News 25 was on the beach Monday as the body of one dolphin calf was removed from the Long Beach shore, and this was just one of dozens of baby dolphins found dead this year. The dolphins aren't camera shy at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (I.M.M.S.), where they lazily swim and play with one another. While these mammals are protected at the institute in private pools, something very troubling is happening in the wild.
Dr. Moby Solangi, the Director of the I.M.M.S., says, "This is the largest dolphin population in the United States, in Mississippi and Louisiana waters, and again, Mississippi Sound is a nursery, so you do see some, but this year, we have had a spike of baby dolphins being aborted." Dr. Solangi says there's been a 300% spike in baby dolphin deaths this year and this isn't the first time the Coast has witnessed baby dolphins dying by the hundreds.
Solangi also says, "The first spike was in 2011, a year after the oil spill. Then there was a hiatus, and now we are seeing again another spike of baby dolphins." Harbor masters from across the Coast have reported seeing anywhere from 20 to 30 dolphins in a pod. Experts say it's the first-time mothers that usually have trouble taking care of their calves. Alicia Carron, a veterinary assistant, says, "It's calving season, so a lot of first time mothers, the water is still cold, it’s not unusual to see deaths at this time of the year." While experts say some dolphin deaths are expected around this time of year, it could be years before we find out just why we've been seeing more dead dolphins.
Solangi closes, "This area was neglected for quite some time and we need some baseline data to do a better job with the restoration and recovery of this species.” Marine scientists hope this happens sooner rather than later, especially with all these lives on the line. If you come across a beached animal of any kind, call the I.M.M.S. immediately at 1-888-767-3657.