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Infant dolphin deaths still on rise

The number of dolphins dead this year in Mississippi and Alabama has reached 48. Of those, 39 are infants or stillborn, according to a NOAA Fisheries report today.

This week the small carcasses have washed ashore in Mississippi along the beaches of Long Beach, Pass Christian and East Ship and Sand islands and in Alabama at Orange Beach and Dauphin Island.

The number of dolphin deaths confirmed in the northern Gulf, from Apalachicola, Fla., to the Louisiana border with Texas, the coastal area effected by the BP oil spill, is 87, with 46 of them infant calves or stillborn.

By far, the greatest number of infant carcasses have washed ashore in Mississippi and Alabama. Data from all the bodies has been collected by the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport for analysis by labs that are yet to be selected by federal agencies.

According to the state Department of Environmental Quality, the condition of the small bodies has not been better than a three on a scale of one to six, with one being fresh with no decomposition. The lead biologist with DEQ said today that the condition of the tissue will play a big role on how quickly and accurately scientists will be able to determine why or how they died.

Read what the science community has to say about the sudden rise in dolphin infant deaths in Sunday's Sun Herald.

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