All summer long, thousands of sea creatures have littered much of southern Florida’s typically scenic beaches. Most were fish — mullet fish, catfish, pufferfish, snook, trout, grunt, and even goliath grouper. But other creatures began washing ashore — crabs, eels, manatees, turtles and even dolphins.
News outlets claim it to be a wildlife massacre of massive proportions. The cause of death is a bloom of harmful algae. Scientists say it’s the region’s worst outbreak in over a decade. These harmful algae blooms, also known as red tides, for their common rust-red color, produces toxins that cause gastrointestinal and neurological problems when digested. Sea creatures accidently ingest the algae when feeding, which end up putting them in a state of deep unconsciousness until they end up dead.
The most recent wave of dead fish included six bottlenose dolphins that were found dead in Sarasota County waters within about 24 hours. Recovered off Venice or Casey Key, officials from the Mote Marine Aquarium’s Stranding Investigations Program said two dolphins were found dead Tuesday night while four more were found on Wednesday. Three of the dolphins are male and the other three are female.
Mote officials also stated that they do not believe the dolphins are part of the population that lives in Sarasota County year-round due to their type of dorsal fins.
As part of the investigation to find out what happened, Mote staff will conduct necropsies on the animals in Sarasota. It has been difficult to examine and collect samples for analysis, however, as the six dolphins were reportedly found moderately to severely decomposed.
Despite red tide causing a huge problem for Florida this summer, Mote officials did not say whether or not red tide played a role in the deaths of the six dolphins. It will take several weeks to determine whether the algae played a role.
By: Maytinee Kramer