Dolphins Washing Up Along Texas Coast

Local marine experts have a mystery on their hands, they're trying to determine why nearly three dozen dolphins have washed up along our beaches.

Since the first of the year,  there've been at least 34 of those strandings from Corpus Christi to Port Aransas.  Last year, at this time, there were just a handful, so why is it happening?

They aren't sure what's been going on because the testing on those mammals takes quite sometime to complete and there's no obvious signs, or clear cut reasons for their deaths.

Lea Walker is the regional coordinator for the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.  She and Tony Amos work together to photograph and document the deaths.

Amos runs the ARK animal rehab in Port Aransas.  He says last year, there were only eight dead dolphins that washed up on the shores of Port Aransas.  This year, 26 have turned up including the latest which was found Tuesday on San Jose Island.

While the two work to collect and document the dead mammals, they aren't sure why they're dying in the first place.  This is the time of the year that dolphins do end up stranded on our beaches.

That's usually after giving birth.  Still, these marine mammal experts say if you find a dead dolphin, report it and then stay away.

"We don't know what's causing the deaths at this time until the pathology and the forensics is done.  As far as the samples we are collecting just using that as a basic rule of thumb you wouldn't want to expose your children or pets to a dead marine mammal," says Walker.

"Any kind of research into why something happens especially when it involves medical things it takes a while.  One doesn't want to give out false information to put people in a panic your point earlier is that people should just leave these things alone," says Amos.

Now if the number of stranded dolphins continues, then there is a chance that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would step in and declare an unusual event and pour resources into the area to get to the bottom of the deaths.  So far, we're not to that point.

Also, there's been no evidence that the BP oil spill caused the deaths in any way, nor is the red tide being blamed.


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