Harrison County

Second rare dolphin stranded on Gulf Coast and there’s likely reason why, vet says

A second rare dolphin stranded on the Gulf Coast within a week is being treated at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, which says the oddity could be caused by Hurricane Michael.

A pantropical spotted dolphin, or a Stenella attenuata, was found near Theodore, Ala., and brought to the IMMS on Tuesday night, IMMS director said Moby Solangi said.

That type of dolphin, such as the one recently stranded in Biloxi, lives in the Gulf of Mexico but in deep waters far away from the coastline, Solangi said.

“These unusual strandings appear to be somehow related to Hurricane Michael, which could have affected the pods of dolphins inhabiting the deep waters of the Gulfport of Mexico,” Solangi said.

The spotted dolphin is in critical condition, “but our staff is diligent and giving her the best chance we can for survival,” he said.

A rough-toothed dolphin, also a deep sea mammal, was found stranded in Biloxi on Oct. 12. The female juvenile had pneumonia and a large fish hook in her mouth. She is now in stable condition.

The Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network, based at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, responded to the scene of the latest stranded.

Alissa Deming, a network veterinarian, assessed the dolphin and determined that she is young and has a chance for survival, Solangi said.

Once the dolphin arrived in Gulfport, veterinarian Debra Moore began giving her antibiotics, fluids and fish gruel. Moore is a Mississippi State University veterinarian stationed at the IMMS. Moore said the dolphin remains in critical condition and her recovery will be “a long-term effort.”

The dolphin requires 24-hour care, Solangi said.

Anyone who sees a dolphin or turtle in distress is asked to call IMMS at 1-888-767-3657, also known as 1-888-SOS-DOLPHIN.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews