NOAA announces bottlenose dolphin unusual mortality event

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - NOAA says on average there are 87 elevated bottlenose dolphin strandings around this time of year, but this year the number shot up to 261.

Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported an increase in strandings in the Gulf for one species. (WJHG/WECP)

NOAA says these dolphin strandings occurred from Franklin County through Louisiana and are three times the historical average. As of June 12, there have been 279 strandings.

Most of these dolphins were found in a moderate to advanced states of decomposition, making it difficult to determine an exact cause of death, but experts say they are noticing a trend of lesions on the dolphins indicative of freshwater exposure.

Dr. Erin Fougères, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Region Marine Mammal Stranding Program Administrator, said, "So there are some animals with visible signs of skin lesions consistent with fresh water exposure but it's too early at this point to say whether that is the cause of the mortalities. And then there are animals that don't have skin lesions and we're still investigating, you know, what the potential causes or contributing factors are for those mortalities."

NOAA officials say if you find any sick, stranded, or dead dolphins do not approach the animal and contact a local stranding network immediately.

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