Gulf Coast Sees Spike In Baby Dolphin Deaths

Marine researchers on the Gulf Coast are baffled by a sudden increase in the number of baby dolphin deaths occuring near Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines.

According to the, researchers from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) are investigating a total of 28 adult and infant dolphin carcases since the first of the year. Of the 28, 18 were infant dolphins.

On its blog, the National Wildlife Federation states that this is “10 times the normal rate of stillborn and infant deaths.”

Several of the dolphin calves, some barely three feet long, were found near Gulf Islands National Seashore Park by National Resource Advisory employees who are working with BP cleanup crews on the island.

The SunHerald also reports that IMMS has been conducting necropsies on the baby dolphins and sharing the findings with Blair Mase, the NOAA’s marine mammal stranding coordinator for the Southeast region.

Currently, none of the research agencies involved are certain about what might be causing the baby dolphin deaths.
This is the beginning of the dolphin birthing season, so it’s the normal time for researchers to see still-births–just not in such high numbers.

In similar instances of mass mortality in other species infection or disease has been the cause, and researchers say these could again be to blame.

Dr. Doug Inkley, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior scientist says it may be hard to ever know for sure what caused the baby dolphin deaths:

“Until necropsies are performed, we won’t know the cause of death, and even then may never know. As we have learned from recent mass mortality events of mallards and blackbirds, they are not all that uncommon and most often the cause is disease. It wouldn’t be surprising for disease to be a factor in this case.

“Another possibility is poor nutritional status of the pregnant females, causing them to abort the young or give birth to weak young. Certainly, the oil spill through exposure to toxics could make the dolphins more vulnerable to disease, or lead to starvation if food sources become scarce. There could also be sublethal effects of the oil on adults that inhibit successful reproduction.”

Related Reading:
Obama’s Budget Includes $27 Million For Gulf Coast Restoration
Gulf Oil Spill: 10 Horrifying Facts You Never Wanted To Know
BP Pressured For $15 Million To Restore Gulf Oyster Habitats
Gulf Submarine Exploration Reveals Ocean Floor Covered In Oil (Video)

Image: Dolphins swim next to oil booms at Petit Bois Island in Mississippi on June 4, 2010
Image Credit: Flickr - deepwaterhorizonresponse


Val M.
Val M.3 years ago


N Towle
Nan Towle3 years ago

"The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout) was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, .... Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which claimed 11 lives,... a sea-floor oil gusher flowed unabated for three months in 2010. The gushing wellhead was not capped until after 87 days, on 15 July 2010... The total discharge is estimated at 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3)...]"

Consider the amount of additional chemicals and dispersants thrown in after the millions of gallons of oil.

Is it really a mystery that the Gulf is seeing a spike in baby dolphin deaths? The real mystery to me is that any of the dolphins, and any other ocean/water and wildlife life survived any of this at all!
It will take a long while for all the damage that this monster oil spill has caused to be fully realized. We don't know how many years yet. We are barely into the beginning of it.

BP pending Civil Suit updated 3:51 PM EST, Tue January 29, 2013 (CNN)

Jane R.
Jane R.5 years ago

What else but water polution???

Wendy S.
Wendy S.5 years ago

The more I think abut whats happening to the Animals and sea life, the more sure I am, that it's the reason our planet is getting out of balance, What fools are we not to see this...

Rudica R.
Rudica R.5 years ago

it doesn't take a scientist to figure out why these babies are dying!
Oil spills kill! Drill baby drill.....kill babies kill. Only more the reason to become independent of oil and go to clean energy.
In the same gulf we could harvest the energy from the waves and wind and the area become clean and safe for all. But because it happens to the wildlife to some its not important...
would things change if it were humans dying....? would it depend on who was dying?

Geraldine R.
Geraldine R.5 years ago


Katherine W.
Kate W.5 years ago

Seriously? Baffled? For people who have gone to professional school and are assumed to be intelligent- how is it possible that they can't tie a sudden, enormous influx of infant dolphin deaths to the BP oil spill?
Their immune systems are weak because they are infants and there is oil and toxic dispersant everywhere!

Peggy Peters
Peggy Peters5 years ago

If anyone saw the deep water horizon disaster, how could they wonder why marine life is suffering and perishing???!!!!
BP should be shut down, assets liquidated and the money dispersed for clean-up and disaster relief!!!!!
How can we save all of the animals who have died?

Shannon Hudgens
Shannon Hudgens5 years ago

BP needs to fix this soon. There will not be much left of the gulf if they do not get the oil from the bottom. There is a small town in washington that finally got Burlington Northern to clean up there oil spill from 80 years ago. Levels of benzene were so high it was probably the cause of some of the sreious illnesses in the town. We do not have that kind of time to save the gulf!

Debbie Wasko
Past Member 5 years ago