CHOCTAWHATCHEE BAY — Three dolphins have been found dead in local waters in the past eight days, including two discovered on Sunday.
Brittany Baldrica, the marine mammal study coordinator for the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, said none of the dolphins had physical injuries, showed signs of asphyxiation or any other clues that made it evident what had killed them.
Body samples were taken from each animal in hopes a cause of death could be determined.
No signs of red tide were noticed in the waters where the dolphins were found, Baldrica said.
“Historically in February we see more marine animal strandings,” said Carol Andersen, the executive director of the Wildlife Refuge.
February is calving season and often calves born to first-time mothers are born with high amounts of mercury in their system passed on from the fish the adult dolphin eats, Baldrica said.
All of the dolphins found recently, however, were males, two adults and one sub-adult, she said.
The first dolphin stranding occurred Feb. 9 at Shirk’s Bayou in the Niceville area, Baldrica said. One of the two discovered Sunday was on Okaloosa Island and the other at Bay Flats Recreation Center in Freeport.
Anderson cautioned anyone who finds a stranded sea mammal to stay away from it and call the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. The animals can transmit disease.