GULFPORT -- Dolphins and sea turtles are sounding the alarm, but Moby Solangi wonders if we are listening.
The executive director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport speaks every chance he gets about the harm 31 states and two Canadian provinces inflict on the Mississippi River with industrial and agricultural runoff, and waste from animals and humans. Agricultural runoff includes fertilizer and antibiotics.
The pollutants make their way to the Mississippi Sound, home to dolphins and sea turtles that are showing the stress, Solangi told members of the Gulfport Business Club on Tuesday.
The BP oil catastrophe in 2010, he said, added stress on marine life. He's seen more dolphin and sea turtle deaths in recent years, plus infections he believes are related to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Mississippi, he said, has the largest dolphin population in the world. Dolphins were pregnant the spring of the oil spill, he said. Many of those fetuses were aborted.
"These animals are telling us something," he said. "We are next in line."
During a question-and-answer session, businessman and former Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr said he no longer sees the schools of mullet that swam near shore in his childhood.
"There certainly has been a downward trend," Solangi said. "If we don't pay attention, this area is not going to be great. We have had a decline, and that decline has been very slow."
He hopes the BP settlement money Mississippi will receive over the next 15 years will be used for environmental restoration, particularly along the Coast.
He also believes Congress needs to act in order to curb pollutants flowing down the Mississippi. States that contribute to the pollution, he said, need to pay up.
He said Californians would never put up with so many pollutants being dumped into their state.
"One of the reasons nobody does anything," he said, "is because we (Mississippians) don't say anything."