Dolphin die-offs in So.Florida – 09/24/2004

  • October 1, 2013 at 3:48 am #573

    — In, “bcolemanconroy8”
    <bcolemanconroy8> wrote:
    This is the 3rd dolphin die-off this year; the over 350 Elk that
    died in northern US; the farm and woodland animals in eastern US.

    Could the gov’t please just send up a few canaries. They’d fall like

    We are in big trouble gang.

    Thirty dolphin euthanized after Friday’s beachings
    Rachel Harris
    Sunday, August 8, 2004

    Scientists early Saturday euthanized 30 dolphin that beached near
    the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant, despite earlier efforts of
    volunteer rescuers to push them to deeper waters.

    Six, however, were saved and taken to the Harbor Branch
    Oceanographic Institution, where they were being given fluid
    Saturday evening as scientists fought dehydration.

    “A lot of these animals were in the process of dying already,” said
    Gregory Bossart, director of marine mammal research and conservation
    at Harbor Branch, a private ocean research facility north of Fort

    The dolphin ran aground Friday afternoon about 4 miles south of the
    power plant.

    Volunteers covered them with wet towels to keep them cool and
    returned them to the water, but the dolphin beached again at about 8
    p.m. Friday.

    Saturday morning, beachgoers near the south jetty of the Fort Pierce
    Inlet watched nervously after they spotted another dolphin in
    shallow waters.

    It swam half the length of a football field and leapt into the air.
    It lingered for more than three hours, dangerously close to shore.

    Onlookers couldn’t help but wonder if it was just the first dolphin
    in another mass stranding.

    A team of Harbor Branch rescuers believed the single dolphin was
    likely a stray from Friday’s group.

    They arrived at the Fort Pierce beach about 1:30 p.m. and decided to
    try to bring it ashore for transfer to Harbor Branch.

    “He doesn’t have anything to eat here,” said Marilyn Mazzoil, Harbor
    Branch’s dolphin research director. “He’s trying to find his group,
    but he could just stay out there until he starves.”

    Two rescuers moved into the surf to try to force the dolphin ashore,
    but it evaded their attempts.

    When a thunderstorm swept over the beach, they aborted the mission,
    at least temporarily.

    “We’ve got our ambulance on standby,” said Steve McCulloch,
    executive director of Harbor Branch’s marine mammal division.

    By Saturday evening, the dolphin had moved to deeper water, but
    Mazzoil said it would very likely move toward the beach again.

    “When you find a deep-dwelling species like this so close to shore,
    they’re here for a reason,” she said. “Something’s not right.”

    The scientists expect results today of preliminary blood tests of
    the six captive dolphin.

    If the animals’ health appears stable, they likely will be divided
    into two groups and taken to the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota
    and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which have more space for
    rehabilitation, said Jan Petri, a Harbor Branch spokesman.

    Two of the animals appeared sicker Saturday than the rescuers first
    thought, quivering in the rehabilitation pool at Harbor Branch.

    They improved, but Bossart cautioned that “we could lose all of them

    They’re just in a very guarded state right now, and we’re just
    taking it hour by hour.”

    Of the dolphin euthanized, 20 bodies were sent for necropsy at a
    state-run marine mammal pathobiology lab in St. Petersburg, Bossart

    The other ten were sent to Sea World in Orlando.

    “It could be weeks, or even months, before we know why these animals
    were stranded,” McCulloch said.

    Any mass stranding is unique, Bossart said, but strandings of rough-
    toothed dolphin are almost unheard of.

    The animals prefer deep water and are rarely spotted swimming close
    to beaches.

    Bossart said he thinks strandings in recent years may have been
    caused by human activity.

    “We’ve been treating our oceans like a toilet for years, and maybe
    we’re finally seeing the results,” he said.

    Friday’s stranding came less than a month after a rare beaked whale,
    also a deep-dwelling species, beached near the St. Lucie Inlet.

    It died in captivity a day later at Harbor Branch.

    Bossart, Harbor Branch’s director of marine mammal research,
    believes Friday’s stranding might have been initiated by a single
    sick dolphin that led the group ashore.

    “If the leader for some reason is sick and can’t guide the group,
    they may follow this animal to the beach,” he said. “They don’t know
    any better.”

    During Friday’s rescue effort, scientists had trouble finding a
    leader in the group.

    And while many appeared sick, at least a third of the dolphin showed
    no signs of illness after the first beaching.

    Once the dolphin stranded a second time, the scientists knew they
    would only continue to swim ashore.

    “We thought it would be more humane to put them to sleep,” Bossart
    said. Volunteers planned to keep an eye out today for Saturday’s
    stray dolphin and any others that might come ashore.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if there are still some stragglers out
    there that will beach in the next few days,” Bossart said. “We just
    have to wait and see.”

    Straggling dolphin rescued onshore
    By Rani Gupta

    Monday, August 09, 2004

    An apparent straggler from a pod of dolphin that recently stranded
    on South Hutchinson Island was rescued Sunday morning after it came
    ashore near South Jetty Park in Fort Pierce.

    The dolphin, seen swimming close to shore Saturday, was taken to the
    Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution north of Fort Pierce, said
    Jan Petri, a spokesman for the private ocean research facility.

    It apparently was part of a pod with 36 dolphin stranded Friday
    afternoon about 4 miles south of the St. Lucie nuclear power plant.
    Although volunteers pushed the animals into deeper water, the
    dolphin came ashore again Friday night.

    POPULAR PAGES Thirty dolphin were euthanized and six were saved.

    Those six dolphin, along with the animal rescued Sunday, were
    scheduled to be transferred Sunday night from Harbor Branch to Mote
    Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Petri said.

    Preliminary blood tests on the six dolphin rescued Friday night
    were “out of normal ranges,” but Petri said they did not point to
    any particular cause that might have prompted the animals to come

    Petri said the dolphin were in guarded condition.

    “They were feeding, which is a good sign,” he said. “If anything
    they look undernourished.”

    Harbor Branch scientists have said Friday’s stranding may have been
    caused by a single sick dolphin that led the rest of the animals

    The euthanized dolphin have been sent for necropsy, but results are
    not expected for several weeks.

    Mass strandings of any animals are rare, but scientists said it is
    particularly unusual for rough-toothed dolphin to beach themselves
    because the animals prefer deep water and rarely swim close to shore.

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