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2013 Bottlenose Dolphin Unusual Mortality Event in Florida
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (as amended), an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) has been declared for bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) System along the east coast of Florida from January 2013 through the present. Elevated strandings of bottlenose dolphins have occurred in the northern and central Indian River Lagoon system in Brevard County.
Current bottlenose dolphin strandings are almost three times the historical average for the Indian River Lagoon. All age classes of bottlenose dolphins are involved, but the majority of animals are older adults and a few juveniles.
The most significant and unifying gross necropsy finding is emaciation. As part of the UME investigation process, an independent team of scientists (Investigative Team) is being assembled to coordinate with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events to review the data collected and to determine the next steps.
In addition to the increased dolphin strandings, a separate UME was declared by NOAA Fisheries in April 2013 for elevated manatee mortalities in the Brevard County. From July 25, 2012 to June 14, 2013, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) has documented 250 manatee deaths in Brevard County. A cause for these mortalities has not been determined and the ongoing investigation is being led by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and FWCC.
FAQs on investigation of the ongoing bottlenose dolphin UME are available.
- To report a live or dead stranded dolphin in the Southeast U.S., please call the local marine mammal stranding network (1-877-WHALE HELP).
- Southeast U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network Brochure
- Unusual Mortality Events
- National Marine Mammal Stranding Network
Updated: August 14, 2013