Scientists at the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies are investigating unusually high numbers of stillborn and aborted dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico region. Seventeen infant dolphins have washed up on shore so far this year, compared to an average of one or two a month, says one scientist.
It’s possible, though too soon to tell, that the BP oil disaster and ensuing chemical cleanup may be to blame.
“For some reason, they’ve started aborting or they were dead before they were born,” [institute director Moby Solangi] said. “The average is one or two a month. This year we have 17 and February isn’t even over yet.”
Deaths in the adult dolphin population rose in the year of the oil spill from a norm of about 30 to 89, Solangi said.
Solangi is gathering tissue and organs for a thorough forensic study of the infant deaths and is cautious about drawing conclusions until the data is in within a couple of weeks.