Sunday, June 17, 2007

No cause of death for dead dolphin calf

Preliminary findings from a necropsy performed on a calf born to a deaf Atlantic bottlenose dolphin show no apparent cause of death, officials said Saturday.

The nearly eight-hour animal autopsy that began Friday was performed by an independent veterinarian selected by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Robert Lingenfelser, president of the Marine Mammal Conservancy, said.

"After a thorough and detailed necropsy, we could not find an apparent cause of death," Lingenfelser said. "There was nothing obvious."

Multiple tissue samples and major organs are being submitted to several independent labs. It could take months for tests to be completed, he said.

The dolphin was only five days old when it died Friday. His mother, Castaway, appears to be in good condition.

Castaway originally stranded off Vero Beach in November and was initially deemed healthy enough for release. But instead of swimming offshore, Castaway returned to the beach three times and then was transported to the Keys, where it was diagnosed to be deaf.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"