Want to Swim With Dolphins? Don't Go to the Gulf

Lindsay Mannering

dolphinIf something doesn't change, Enzo might not get his wish after all. Since February 2010 over 400 bottle-nose dolphins have washed ashore either dead or stranded along the golf coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) isn't sure what the cause is yet, but knows one thing -- more analysis and research is needed to determine what is happening to our favorite marine mammal.

You'll remember back in January when all those birds and fish died in Arkansas ... could this dolphin crisis fall under the creepy category of an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) or is there something else going on here? Where's Hayden Panettiere, doesn't she know about this stuff?

No word on whether NOAA has contacted the young actress for her help, but she'd probably be pretty eager to help.

The dolphins that have died have all been extremely young -- all either neonatal, pre-term, or very little, all under 115 centimeters long. NOAA is working hard to determine why they're dying, and why they're dying so young.

I think I would burst into tears if I stumbled upon a dead dolphin on the beach. They really are the cutest most lovable creatures on Earth, scientifically speaking. The shape of their mouths makes them look like they're constantly smiling at us, and their seemingly cuddly behavior has one over many a fan at Sea World.

Scientists report that the Gulf is not immune to UME, but some are ready to remind us about the infamous BP oil spill that happened in April, 2010. Marine life obviously suffered tremendously when the oil gushed for weeks into the Gulf, and the extent of the damage may never be known. As soon as two weeks ago, six dolphins were found washed up, and were covered in oil spots which analysts confirmed were from the BP well explosion. They cannot, however, definitively say that the oil killed the dolphins.

If the dolphin deaths are a UME or are related to the oil spill, either way it's a sad story. Sea turtle deaths and stranding have also been alarming high recently, with over 100 recorded since March 2010. Somebody stop the madness!

What do you think is causing the dolphin deaths?

Photo via kashyap_hc/Flickr

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