Sunday, June 01, 2008

Forty rough-toothed dolphins mysteriously die in mass

Something extremely odd is happening in Canary waters which is baffling marine biologists in southern Gran Canaria. At the time of going to press no less than nine dolphins had been found dead and washed ashore in recent days, all in an advanced stage of decomposition.The total number of cetacean dead in the archipelago as a whole is now approaching forty this year.

All of the dead belonged to the Steno bredanensis or rough-toothed dolphin variety.The stomach contents of each animal showed they had all been eating as normal within hours of their death. The fact they had been eating the same kind of fish means they could all have been in the same place whenever what it was occurred.

Tests are being carried out to establish the cause of death. Various theories being considered include a virus, bacteria, poison or some other form of pollution affecting vital organs or some other connecting factor to explain what occurred in the southern waters of Gran Canaria over the ten days previous to their discovery.

Scientists working on the case say the dead cetaceans washed ashore are more than likely the mere tip of an iceberg and many others will have been carried away on currents.Antonio Fernándiz, as expert at the Cetacean Investigation Unit at Las Palmas University, said that the evidence points to the animals having “died suddenly, together and within the same group” in relatively shallow water.

“Whatever caused their deaths has been something very fast as these were all healthy specimens which had been feeding up until they died. I have never witnessed anything like it before,” he said.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"