MIAMI HERALD: Mounting dolphin deaths in Florida’s red tide zone trigger federal investigation

Miami Herald: Written by Jenny Staletovich. August 31, 2018.

Federal wildlife officials have opened an investigation into dolphin deaths off Southwest Florida, where a red tide is suspected of killing 41 dolphins in August alone amid widespread fish kills across five counties.

In a briefing Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it was declaring the deaths an “unusual mortality event,” allowing the agency to corral resources to research the ongoing deaths linked to the algae bloom. Since the 1990s, the agency has declared four similar red tide dolphin die-offs in the Gulf. Three occurred in the Panhandle and one, during a 17-month long tide that ended in 2006, covered the entire west coast.

“As we go through this event, if it’s truly red tide, you may see a shift in the type and what the strandings look like,” said veterinarian Teri Rowles, coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program.

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