NOAA: Unusual Number of Dolphins Dying Off Florida, Gulf of Mexico
Just weeks after an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) was declared for bottlenose dolphins dying in the Indian River Lagoon System along the east coast of Florida, another UME has been declared for dolphins and whales (cetaceans) in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Texas/ Louisiana border through Franklin County, FL) from February 2010 through the present.
As of July 28, 2013, the Gulf UME involves 1030 Cetacean "strandings" in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (5% stranded alive and 95% stranded dead). Although the 2002 to 2009 average annual dolphin death rate for that geographic area is 74, 202 dolphin deaths have been recorded from January 1, 2013 to July 28, 2013.
In addition to investigating all other potential causes, NOAA fisheries scientists are investigating what role Brucella bacteria may have in the Gulf UME. Since finding Brucella in five stranded dolphins from Louisiana, scientists have been concentrating testing on cases that show pathological changes consistent with the fetal pneumonia or adult meningitis identified in the first five cases. So far, 27 out of 107 dolphins tested to date were positive or suspect positive for brucella.
Indian River Lagoon Dolphin (Florida East Coast) Mortality Map:
Image Credits: NOAA