Hundreds of dolphins have washed up dead along the U.S. Gulf Coast in recent months – an event so strange as it was and "unusual mortality event" by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
More than 261 bottlenose dolphins have been stranded in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, officials said on Friday. The number is approximately three times higher than average
AT LEAST 60 ICE SEALS REPORTED DEAD IN ALASKA, OFFICIALS SAY
The collective deaths have been determined to be an "unusual mortality event" by NOAA, defined as "a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off or any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response. "
Many of the dolphin carcasses recovered are very decomposed, according to officials. RARE FOOTAGE OF RIVER DOLPHINS HELPS SCIENTISTS CRACK MYSTERY OF MARINE MALMAL COMMUNICATION
NOAA says "stranding" is when a marine mammal or sea turtle is found dead on the beach or floating near the shore, or if the creatures are alive near the shore but can not return to sea on their own, whether due to sickness or because they need help.
Scientists are investigating whether lingering effects from the 2010 BP oil are blame for the unusually high death toll for the dolphins. Problems with lung and adrenal glands, which produce stress-related hormones; blood abnormalities;
Earlier reports said the game contributed to the Gulf of Mexico's largest and longest dolphin die-off.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
" We know some of the health conditions … are improving, but have been slow to improve, "Teri Rowles, coordinator of the NOAA Fisheries' Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, told The Associated Press. "Reproduction in the heaviest-oiled areas continues below normal."
Rowles said that scientists will investigate whether more immediate effects from low salinity because of freshwater flow from high rivers and a Louisiana spillway contributed to the deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.