Spring brings stranding season for dolphins along the Coast

Two dolphins were found in Long Beach on Tuesday. They were recovered by IMMS’ recovery team.
Two dolphins were found in Long Beach on Tuesday, but it's not an altogether uncommon sight for this time of year in coastal Mississippi.
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 2:09 PM CDT
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LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - Spring has arrived and, with it, mating season. For the recovery team at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, that also means stranding season.

On Tuesday, the team were called to Long Beach, where a dolphin washed ashore near the intersection of Troutman and Reynolds roads. The adult female was in fair condition, said IMMS Executive Director Moby Solangi.

“It’s the beginning of stranding season,” said Solangi. “Animals are moving, the water temperatures are rising and this is the time when they start giving birth.”

This is especially true in South Mississippi where the warm and shallow murky waters provide a haven for dolphins to give birth beginning each year in March and early April.

The Mississippi Sound has one of the largest dolphin populations in the world. That population grows each spring when new babies are born in the shallow waters of the Sound where the murkiness helps protect mamas and babies from predators. Giving birth in shallow water, like the kind that is found along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, also helps newborn calves learn to breathe on their own, notes Solangi.

“They can go down quickly and come back up in the shallow waters found here,” said Solangi. “In deeper waters, they might get confused and not know which direction they are going. Here, the mothers give them a slap on the butt, so to speak, which pushes them through the shallow water and up to take a breath.”

Not long after the adult female was found in Long Beach, another dolphin was located nearby. Solangi said both dolphins were collected by the recovery team and taken to IMMS. There, a necropsy will be performed, which is akin to an autopsy when done to humans.

The necropsy will test the dolphins for any diseases, injuries, growths or anything abnormal. That process is important because it also reveals the status of the coastal environment in South Mississippi, said Solangi.

“Their health reflects the health of our environment in the Mississippi Sound,” he said. “It’s very important.”

If you find a stranded dolphin, alive or dead, call for help immediately. Do not touch the animal without direction from IMMS or another governing agency, such as NOAA or MDMR.

Please be aware that when a live animal is stranded, it may be sick. Therefore, please use every precaution to protect yourself from any infectious diseases. Live dolphin stranding is an emergency and the speed of response by a professional rescue team is perhaps the most crucial factor in determining whether or not the animal will survive.

To reach the IMMS Response Team, call 1-888-SOS-DOLPHIN (1-888-767-3657). The line is open 24/7 and is the fastest way to reach someone who can help when an animal is stranded or washes up ashore deceased.

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