GULFPORT — Baby dolphins, some barely three feet in length, are washing up along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines at 10 times the normal rate of stillborn and infant deaths, researchers are finding.
The Sun Herald has learned that 17 young dolphins, either aborted before they reached maturity or dead soon after birth, have been collected along the shorelines.
The Institute of Marine Mammal Studies is doing necropsies, animal autopsies, on two of the babies now.
Moby Solangi, director of the institute, called the numbers an anomaly and told the Sun Herald that they are significant, especially in light of the BP oil spill throughout the spring and summer last year. Millions of barrels of crude oil containing toxins and carcinogens spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil worked its way into the Mississippi and Chandeleur sounds and other bays and shallow waters where dolphins breed and give birth.
This is the first birthing season for dolphins since the spill.
Dolphins breed in the spring and carry their young for 11 to 12 months, Solangi said.
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