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2010-2014 Cetacean Unusual Mortality Event in Northern Gulf of Mexico

Summary

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (as amended), an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) has been declared for dolphins and whales (cetaceans) in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Texas/ Louisiana border through Franklin County, FL) from February 2010 through the present.

These numbers are preliminary and may be subject to change. As of September 14, 2014, the UME involves 1,260 Cetacean "strandings" in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (5% stranded alive and 95% stranded dead). Of these:

Cetaceans Stranded Phase of Oil Spill Response Dates
114 cetaceans stranded prior to the response phase for the oil spill February 1, 2010- April 29, 2010
121 cetaceans stranded or were reported dead offshore during the initial response phase to the oil spill April 30, 2010- November 2, 2010
1,025 cetaceans stranded* after the initial response phase ended November 3, 2010 -
September 14, 2014**

*This number includes 6 dolphins that were killed incidental to fish related scientific data collection and 1 dolphin killed incidental to trawl relocation for a dredging project.

**The initial response phase ended for all four states on November 2, 2010. Response re-opened for eastern and central Louisiana on December 3, 2010 and closed again on May 25, 2011.


Brucella fact sheet
[pdf]

Brucella bacteria

In addition to investigating all other potential causes, scientists are investigating what role Brucella may have in the Unusual Mortality Event.

Since our original finding of Brucella in 5 stranded dolphins from Louisiana, scientists have been concentrating testing on cases that show pathological changes consistent with the fetal pneumonia or adult meningitis identified in the first 5 cases. Here are our results showing the total number of Brucella cases identified so far. We update these numbers as new results are available.

FAQs

FAQs on the investigations of the ongoing dolphin die-off and the potential impacts of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill on marine mammals are available.

Data

By month/year: All stranded cetaceans (dolphins and whales) from Franklin County, FL to the Texas/ Louisiana border.
NOTES:Historical data excludes 2 previous UMEs in the panhandle of Florida (March-April, 2004 and Sept. 2005-April 2006). Historical data from 2008 through present are unvalidated and numbers may be subject to change as more information becomes available. Current UME Data are considered preliminary and may be subject to change as more information becomes available. They include any strandings reported on or before September 14, 2014 as well as 6 cases that were incidental scientific data collection takes and 1 take incidental to trawl relocation for a dredging project. Raw historical data are also available for download.

  Jan Feb Mar Apl May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average (2002-2009) 6.6 6.9 17.9 11.5 5.3 3.6 4.1 3.5 4.0 4.0 2.6 3.8
2010 Total 5 11 62 41 40 30 10 19 16 6 11 13
2011 Total 25 62 72 39 20 23 17 30 16 26 19 17
2012 Total 25 24 46 17 11 9 9 5 10 13 16 17
2013 Total 24 26 49 67 29 12 3 6 4  7 6  14
2014 (through Sept 14) 16  36  35 37 27 20 10 4 1      


 

By state: All stranded cetaceans (dolphins and whales) from Franklin County, FL to the Texas/Louisiana border.

NOTES: Historical data excludes 2 previous UMEs in the panhandle of Florida (March-April, 2004 and Sept. 2005-April 2006). Historical data from 2008 through present are unvalidated and numbers may be subject to change as more information becomes available. Current UME Data are considered preliminary and may be subject to change as more information becomes available. They include any strandings reported on or before September 14, 2014 as well as 6 cases that were incidental scientific data collection takes and 1 take incidental to trawl relocation for a dredging project. Raw historical data are also available for download.

  FL
Panhandle
AL MS LA
Average (2002-2009) 20 14 20 20
2010 (Feb-Dec) 33 25 64 137
2011 Total 33 59 111 163
2012 Total 29 30 49 94
2013 Total 26 26 50 145
2014 (through Sept 14) 34 35 43 74

 

Number of strandings by month per state/region


Number of strandings per state or region from February 2010 through August 2014.
The red line represents the number of cetacean strandings in each region over time. The green line represents the reported number of stillborn, premature, or neonate stranded bottlenose dolphins (actual or estimated whole carcass lengths less than 115 cm) in each region over time (Feb. 2010-May 2014). The blue line represents the historical average per month calculated from 2002-2009 stranding data.
NOTES: Historical data excludes 2 previous UMEs in the panhandle of Florida (March-April, 2004 and Sept. 2005-April 2006). Historical data from 2008 through present are unvalidated and numbers may be subject to change as more information becomes available. Current UME Data are considered preliminary and may be subject to change as more information becomes available. They include any strandings reported on or before August 31, 2014 as well as 6 cases that were incidental scientific data collection takes and 1 take incidental to trawl relocation for a dredging project. Raw historical data for 2002-2009 are also available for download.

 

All stranded bottlenose dolphins from Franklin County, FL to the Texas/ Louisiana border by month.
NOTES: Historical data excludes 2 previous UMEs in the panhandle of Florida (March-April, 2004 and Sept. 2005-April 2006). Historical data from 2008 through present are unvalidated and numbers may be subject to change as more information becomes available. Current UME Data are considered preliminary and may be subject to change as more information becomes available. They include any strandings reported on or before September 14, 2014 as well as 6 cases that were incidental scientific data collection takes and 1 take incidental to trawl relocation for a dredging project. Raw historical data are also available.

  Jan Feb Mar Apl May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average (2002-2009) 5.4 6.6 16.6 10.4 4.8 3.1 3.3 2.8 2.0 3.3 1.8 2.8
2010 Total 3 9 55 38 38 20 9 19 12 6 7 12
2011 Total 24 58 68 36 18 22 17 25 11 24 18 14
2012 Total 21 20 39 16 9 6 7 3 7 9 13 16
2013 Total 23 23 46 49 25 10 3 3  3  6 3  14
2014 (through Sept 14) 13 31  32 32 25 15 4 1 1      


 

Stranded bottlenose dolphins from Franklin County, FL to the Texas/ Louisiana border with reported actual or estimated whole carcass lengths less than 115 cm (partial carcasses excluded). Bottlenose dolphins <115 cm in total length are either premature, stillborn, or neonatal.
NOTES: Historical data excludes 2 previous UMEs in the panhandle of Florida (March-April, 2004 and Sept. 2005-April 2006). Historical data from 2008 through present are unvalidated and numbers may be subject to change as more information becomes available. Current UME Data are considered preliminary and may be subject to change as more information becomes available. They include any strandings reported on or before September 14, 2014 as well as 6 cases that were incidental scientific data collection takes and 1 take incidental to trawl relocation for a dredging project. Raw historical data are also available.

  Jan Feb Mar Apl May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average (2002-2009) 1 2 6.9 2.1 0.9 0.3 0 0 0.1 0 0.1 0.3
2010 Total 0 1 12 9 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 2
2011 Total 6 35 28 12 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1
2012 Total 8 7 10 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2
2013 Total 9 10 11 11 2 1 0 0  0  1 0  2
2014 (through Sept 14) 4 15  11 15 3 0 0 0 0      

Map

The following map displays stranding locations from the 2010-2014 Cetacean Unusual Mortality Event in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Bottlenose dolphin stranding locations are represented by circle symbols, while stranding locations for all other cetacean species are represented by square symbols. Symbols containing a black dot indicate that the reported actual/estimated length of the stranded cetacean was less than 115 cm. Symbols that are colored pink, represent the most recently reported data. Dropdown boxes located above the map allow filtering of the mapped locations and clicking on a mapped location will open an information window containing data associated with the selected stranding.

Filter Stranding Locations:
Year
Month
Species Class

More Information

Updated: September 16, 2014