Saturday, December 15, 2007

Can the red tide be responsible for the death of seven dolphins?

A dead dolphin was found along the shoreline near Kennedy Space Center on Friday, making it the seventh death in the past three days.

Another dolphin was also found dead in the same area on Thursday, and a second dolphin also washed ashore in New Smyrna Beach. A baby dolphin with its umbilical cord attached was found nearby. The baby dolphin was not added to the official total because it hadn't yet been born.
A rescue effort also continued on Friday in the Mosquito Lagoon for two additional dolphins trapped there. It's not known if those dolphins are ill.

Biologists are working to determine whether the dolphin deaths are related to a growing red tide problem along Central Florida's beaches. Samples were taken from the dolphin carcasses on Thursday for examination.

"This could be totally unrelated to red tide, but right now it's a pretty big coincidence that there have been dead turtles, dead sea birds, dead fish and now dolphins," biologist Megan Stolen said on Thursday.

Four other dolphins were found on Wednesday at the northern end of the Canaveral National Seashore. They were removed by the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute based in Orlando.
Researchers said the dolphins can breathe in the red-tide toxin and feed on fish that have been affected.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"