Over the past three days, nine dead dolphins have been recovered from waters off Sarasota County.
The animals had been found dead amid a 9-month-long red tide outbreak that’s killed thousands of marine life in Gulf waters off Southwest Florida in recent weeks.
From Aug. 7 through Aug. 9, Mote Marine Laboratory’s Investigations program recovered the nine dolphins with the help of Venice Marine Patrol officers, Venice Police, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, West Coast Inland Navigation District personnel, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program.
Aug. 7: Two dead dolphins were recovered on a beach in Venice.
Aug. 8: In the morning, two dolphins were recovered from the Intracoastal Waterway near Snake Island in Venice and Caspersen Beach, respectively.
Aug. 8: In the afternoon, a fifth dolphin was reported along North Casey Key Road in Nokomis, and a sixth was reported floating off mid-Casey Key. Both were recovered and taken to Mote.
Aug. 8-9: In the early morning hours of Aug. 9, Mote staff and volunteers recovered a seventh dolphin reported on Siesta Key. Then, the eighth and ninth dolphins were recovered on Siesta Key and Casey Key and taken to Mote.
Mote reports that of the nine dolphins recovered since Aug. 7, three are males and four are females. The sex of the other two is being confirmed.
Mote reported Thursday that its staff is conducting or will conduct necropsies on all nine dolphins at the organization’s main campus on City Island. It said the animals were found moderately to severely decomposed, complicating its efforts to examine and collect samples.
First, it was turtles, manatees and tons of fish; now dolphins are washing up dead, and scientists suspect it’s due to red tide.
Mote scientists said when a bloom lasts this long — and this one started nine months ago off Southwest Florida — sooner or later dolphins will be impacted. Those scientists admitted they had their fingers crossed, hoping that wouldn’t be the case; but sadly it is.