9 bottlenose dolphins found dead off Florida’s west coast

VENICE, Fla. (CNN) — Nine dolphins have been found dead on beaches in Florida’s Gulf Coast in less than two days.

“The fact that it’s starting to impact our dolphins makes us even more nervous about what’s to come,” said Rebeccah Hazelkorn, senior biologist at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

Venice Police Marine Patrol found two deceased dolphins on Tuesday, another two on Wednesday around 8 a.m. and then two more around 2:30 p.m. Mote Marine said three more dolphins were found dead Thursday morning near Siesta Key and Casey Key.

Mote did not say whether or not red tide played a role in their deaths, but it has been impacting marine life on the Florida Gulf Coast this summer.

The laboratory noted the deceased dolphins were found in the waters off Sarasota County, where an endangered sea turtle was also found dead on Tuesday. That area was confirmed to have red tide.

“With no other visible evidence for why it died, red tide exposure is suspected,” researchers noted in a Facebook post.

“Dolphins are much faster-moving animals. They have been able to detect [red tide] and swim out of it. Turtles are actually pretty good at detecting red tide and avoiding it. It’s just where the animals are going and how bad the bloom is and how fast it gets into their system,” said Hazelkorn.

Mote Marine Aquarium’s Stranding Investigations Program says it recovered those dolphins from several locations in Sarasota County including one found in the Intracoastal Waterway near Snake Island in Venice and another located on Caspersen Beach.

Mote staff will conduct necropsies on the animals in Sarasota to investigate what happened to them. They were all reportedly found moderately to severely decomposed, which makes it difficult to examine and collect samples for analysis.

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