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Dolphin, Manatee Deaths Baffle Scientists

Article found HERE

These animals have been dying at near-record levels, raising the alarm and a whole host of questions.

Manatee
Low temperatures can lead to “cold stress” in manatees, which can weaken and eventually kill the aquatic mammals. 

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Near-record numbers of manatees have died in Florida waters in early 2011, the second straight year of above-average deaths, alarming officials who are also puzzled by a surge in dolphin fatalities along the Gulf Coast.

Of the 163 manatee deaths recorded from Jan. to Feb. 25, 91 of them have been blamed on cold water temperatures off the southern state, where normally temperate weather draws the protected sea creatures during winter months, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

A record 185 manatees died in Florida during the same period last year, according to the commission.

Authorities at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also investigates the huge increase in baby dolphins washed up dead along the US Gulf Coast, in the first birthing season since the BP oil spill disaster.

Eighty-three bottle-nosed dolphins, more than half of them newborns, were found dead in January and February along the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where millions of barrels of oil from a leaking undersea well poured into the Gulf of Mexico over three months.

“We have not found an indicator on what could be causing these deaths,” but said several factors could have contributed to the deaths including biotoxins, “red tide” algal blooms, or infectious disease, she said.

“We are following the situation closely,” she added.

 

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