The violent dolphin deaths along the Gulf of Mexico remain a mystery to scientists. The dolphin death tally is currently up to 700 recorded dolphin deaths since February of 2010. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, some of these deaths may be attributed to human cruelty, but most of the deaths appear to be due to natural causes.
Two months before the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, dolphins began stranding themselves and unusually high mortality rates were recorded. Scientists hypothesize that the cold winter in 2011 may have contributed to deaths within the Gulf’s dolphin population, but there are indications something else is afoot. Investigators also found discolored teeth and lung infections within some of the dead dolphins.
Still, not all of the violent dolphin deaths can be blamed on mother nature.
“It’s very sad to think that anyone could do that to any animal,” said Erin Fougeres, a marine mammal scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “There have been some obviously intentional cases.”
As ABC reports, “five dolphins have been found shot. In Louisiana, two were shot in 2011 and one in 2012. And in Mississippi, three were found shot this year, the most recent one last week.”
Other reports of violent dolphin deaths have been more gruesome. A dolphin in Alabama was found with a screwdriver stuck in its head. Another had its tail cut off, and that animal somehow survived. Even more dead dolphins were missing fins or had cuts to their bodies.
“I think it is outrageous,” said Moby Solangi, the executive director of Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. “These animals are very docile, very friendly and they’re very curious. They come close to the boats, so if you’re out there, you’ll see them riding the bows. And their curiosity and friendship brings them so close that they become targets and that’s the unfortunate thing.”
Fougeres said she “doesn’t think the dolphins are being targeted by a gang of people or even by a lone, sick individual.” For those angry about the violent dolphin deaths, she cautions that some of the dolphin mutilations might have occurred post-mortem after the animal died from natural causes. She said that in the case of the dolphin with the lower jaw missing, someone could have cut off the jaw for a souvenir after the animal died.
“We have to do a necropsy on the animal and collect tissue samples to try to determine whether or not the injury was pre-or post-mortem,” Fougeres said.
The violent dolphin deaths have riled up the nation. Let us hope that the NOAA scientists find the other natural cause for the increased number of deaths in the dolphin population.