As of Wednesday, the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) reported that as many as 30 dolphins have been found dead since January in Mississippi and Alabama, and 24 of them calves. The Sun Herald reported five dead calves found in Alabama in just one day.
Scientists are concerned about these abnormally high numbers. The number of dolphin strandings so far this year is already more than ten times greater than what it’s been the last two years. Also unusual is the timing of these deaths. Birthing season for dolphin typically begins later, in March. Clearly, something is wrong.
Although scientists have not ruled out causes such as extreme cold temperatures, many are looking to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill last spring as a potential culprit. IMMS experts, joined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), remain busy conducting autopsies. Hopefully, further testing will allow them to get to the bottom of this troubling phenomenon soon.