A juvenile bottlenose dolphin that was recovered off Longboat Key Monday morning likely died due to lung issues and a moderate parasite load.
The dolphin was reported by a local fisherman who spotted the animal about a half mile off of Longboat. The dolphin was recovered by Mote Marine Laboratory and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol and transported to Mote. On Tuesday, Dec. 20, the lab’s Stranding Investigations performed a necropsy.
While the necropsy, an equivalent to an autopsy on non-human animals, found signs of lung issues and a moderate parasite load, the investigation on the cause of death was hindered due to the level of decomposition of the dolphin, a statement from Mote said.
“It is always sad when we recover a dead animal,” Gretchen Lovewell, Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program Manager said in the statement. “We thank the fisherman who notified us about this animal and we hope to learn more about the animal as we finish the investigation. It can take months for all analyses to be completed allowing for a more complete picture of what happened to the animal, and even then, sometimes we don’t get a conclusive answer on cause of death.”
The recovered dolphin was known to the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program as a “CLA2,” a resident of Gulf coastal waters and born before 2010. The SDRP, which is a collaborative research program with the Chicago Zoological Society, reported sightings of the dolphin 16 times, most recently on Aug. 1, 2016. Its presumed mother, “CLAT,” has been seen 13 times since 1997, Mote’s statement said.
The animal’s skeleton will be archived in Ruth DeLynn Cetacean Osteological Collection at Mote, which contains curated bone specimens of dolphins and small whales to be studied.
To report a stranded, entangled, injured or dead dolphin, whale, manatee or sea turtle in the Sarasota or Manatee county waters call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at 988-0212.