60 Bottlenose Dolphins Dead in Florida Panhandle
MIAMI (Reuters) – More than 60 bottlenose dolphins have died in the
waters of the Florida Panhandle in the past nine days under
mysterious circumstances, U.S. marine researchers said on Friday.
The National Marine Fisheries Service said its preliminary tests
found no evidence of red tide, a harmful alga that has been blamed in
the past for massive die-offs of endangered manatees, in the waters
of St. Joseph’s Bay, where most of the dead dolphins have been found.
Researchers discovered traces of another harmful alga and a toxin
associated with red tide in the water, where dead fish and jellyfish
had also been found. They could not say whether the alga or toxin
contributed to the deaths.
Florida banned shellfish harvesting in the vicinity of St. Joseph’s
Bay in November because of toxins in the water. The bay is about 30
miles southeast of Panama City, Florida.
Red tide was blamed for the deaths of 60 endangered manatees over a
two-month period early last year. In 1996, a similar algae bloom
killed 149 manatees.
Scientists say red tide algae contain a toxin that is released into
the water when the algae die. Manatees can ingest the toxin when they
eat or inhale it when they surface to breathe.