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2013 Bottlenose Dolphin Unusual Mortality Event in Florida: CLOSED


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.

All age classes of bottlenose dolphins are involved, but the majority of animals are older adults and a few juveniles.


                                                         Map of dolphin strandings (as of July 2014) in the IRL (Credit: HSWRI)
                                                                                            (click for larger view)

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, NOAA Fisheries declared a separate UME in April 2013 for elevated manatee mortalities in Brevard County, FL. From July 25, 2012 to March 13, 2014, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) documented 130 manatee deaths as part of this UME. A cause for these mortalities has not been determined. FWC is leading the ongoing investigation.


FAQs on investigation of the ongoing bottlenose dolphin UME are available.

More Information

Updated: September 4, 2014