Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 8:02 AM
GULFPORT, Mississippi -- A stranded dolphin found alive in the marsh near Fort Morgan, Alabama continues to improve, said Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies at Gulfport.
Another dead dolphin, the fifth in the past week, was found at Waveland on Monday, he said.
"They are all about the same age, which is the group of animals that would have been born earlier this year in February and March," Solangi said. "They were less than a year old and still dependent on their mothers."
All the dead dolphins were about 5½-feet long, he said.
"These animals move in the wintertime," Solangi said. "They move toward the south of the barrier islands because of the water temperature and the food has moved toward the south."
The discovery of dead dolphins is a rarity in November, he said.
The live dolphin, found Friday, is recovering in a quarantine tank at the facility.
"It is orientating itself," Solangi said.
The survivor, named Chance by its Alabama rescuers, has been the subject of a battery of tests, he said.
"This was the second time," he said. "The first time when we got him it was a pretty quick deal. We wanted to get him stable. Today we did a battery of tests so that we could send them out."
The survivor and dead dolphins are part of an ongoing series of strandings that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has classified as an "Unusual Mortality Event" in the northern Gulf of Mexico that began February 2010.
NOAA's Office of Protected Resources updated its stranding count Tuesday to 603. The Nov. 20 total had been 596.
"I think from the scientific perspective we are very intrigued that this might give us more information than would be got from dead animals," Solangi said of the survivor.
"Things have improved with this animal," he said.