Dolphin Deaths

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The federal government is now involved in trying to find out what has killed more than three-dozen bottlenose dolphins in the Florida Panhandle recently.

The National Marine Fisheries Service calls the situation an "unusual mortality event." Officials say the number of confirmed dead has reached 38. The Fisheries Service is overseeing testing of the carcasses at a lab in St. Petersburg.

The dolphin deaths were first noticed early last week, when over a dozen were found dead off Cape San Blas in Gulf County. At least one expert says symptoms resemble the effects of red tide, while another says the cause of death "appeared to be somewhat catastrophic."

Reports of dead redfish, lightning whelks and horseshoe crabs in the area also would seem to point to a toxin such as red tide. Some test results could be returned as early as Wednesday.

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