Samples from dead dolphin to be sent to NOAA (updated 12:10 p.m.)

Samples and photographs of a dolphin found by an Institute of Marine Mammal Studies employee Thursday night are being sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, officials said.

An IMMS employee discovered the adult female dolphin dead and floating in the Mississippi Sound and brought it to the beach near the Ken Combs Pier at Courthouse Road in Gulfport, said IMMS Executive Director Moby Solangi.

Samples and photographs were taken for study and the area around the dolphin was marked with red tape so Sand Beach Authority employees could properly dispose of the mammal this morning.

Solangi could not immediately give a cause of death because the dolphin was badly decomposed.

So far this year, 17 dead dolphins have been found in South Mississippi. Ten of those were babies. He is encouraged by those numbers because it's less than this time in 2011.

However, it's calving season for female dolphins which means that those who die giving birth may wash ashore.

Any dolphins found on the beach, whether stranded or dead, should be reported immediately to IMMS at 1-888-SOS DOLPHIN (1-888-767-3657).

Read more of the story in Saturday's Sun Herald and at SunHerald.com.