Moby Solangi, executive director for the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, said he’s not overly concerned with the number of dolphin deaths in the Mississippi Sound this year.
“We’ve had nine reported dolphin deaths so far,” he said. “That’s down from 25 deaths around this time last year.”
And while Solangi isn’t overacting, he is keeping a close watch on the dolphins of South Mississippi — and with good reason.
“Last year we had 84 reported dolphin deaths on the Coast — that’s the highest number of deaths we’ve had since 2011,” Solangi said.
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He said he’s already seen some interesting deaths this year.
“I’ve some dead dolphins that were pregnant and some juvenile dolphin deaths, too,” Solangi said. “But the season is just getting started, so all we can do is continue to monitor it and see what happens.”
One of the reasons Solangi is paying close attention the dolphins of the Mississippi Sound is because of the climate. According to the USA National Phenology Network, southern states, including Mississippi, are experiencing an earlier, warmer spring.
“We had a very mild winter and spring has arrived earlier and the dolphins may be coming in earlier,” he said. “We’ll have to see what happens over the next few weeks.”
The latest reported dead dolphin was found on the northwestern end of Horn Island on Tuesday. Ben Hudson said he decided to spend Mardi Gras Day on the island with some friends and family.
“We found the dolphin and I did not allow the children to touch the dolphin and we did not dig it up,” Hudson said. “We did not see any obvious signs of trauma or obvious cause of death.”
Solangi said his team has been notified about the Horn Island death.
“The dolphin was pretty badly decomposed with means it will be very difficult to conduct a necropsy,” he said.