Committed to the long-term health of our coast and wildlife
COMMITTED TO THE LONG-TERM HEALTH OF OUR COAST AND ALL WILDLIFE
The Pontchartrain Conservancy (PC) is aware of and very concerned about the recent increase in dolphin and other marine life strandings along the Gulf Coast, particularly those in our region. PC monitors coastal and water quality parameters continuously in the Pontchartrain Basin because we want a healthy coastal estuary.
Dolphin are an important species in our estuary that is dependent on good water quality and fish to feed upon. The recent mortalities appear to exceed the normal background of expected mortality, which is concerning. Other unusually large number of dolphin mortality events have been studied. Often the cause is not 100 percent certain, but there are several known re-occurring causes for morality events such as disease and toxin from algae.
Although freshwater can and does cause dolphin mortality events, significant mortality due to freshwater has not been previously reported in the Gulf Coast. Mostly, it’s perceived that dolphin are generally good swimmers and do not get “caught” in freshwater, but some studies suggest dolphin try to stay in a home range. The unprecedented floods of the Mississippi River may have contributed to the recent mortality event. The Bonnet Carré Spillway was opened in 1997, 2008, 2016 and 2018 without any unusual dolphin mortality event officially occurring. In 2019, it seems probable that multiple factors may be contributing to these unfortunate strandings.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the lead federal agency investigating the dolphin strandings. Locally, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is collaborating with the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, and all parties continue to monitor and analyze these occurrences.
Members of the public who have specific questions or need to report a dolphin stranding are asked to contact the Audubon Nature Institute Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Coordinator Gabriella Vazquez at 504-235-3005.
What to do if you spot a marine mammal or sea turtle: If you see an injured or sick marine mammal or sea turtle immediately call the CWN stranding hotline at (504) 235-3005.
WHEN REPORTING, PLEASE BE PREPARED TO GIVE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
- Contact information
- Location including coordinates
- Nature of the report
- Pictures (if possible)
- Estimated the length (if possible)
- Report if the dolphin is floating “free” or stranded on a beach.
- Report directly through email or phone (do not use social media).
Audubon Nature Institute: Gabriella Vazquez (Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle rescue Coordinator)
(504) 235 firstname.lastname@example.org
Precipitation Trends in the Mississippi River Watershed – 2019 National Weather Service
Review of historical unusual mortality events (UMEs) in the Gulf of Mexico (1990-2009): providing context for the multi-year northern Gulf of Mexico cetacean UME declared in 2010
Hydrocoast Monitoring in southeast Louisiana by Pontchartrain Conservancy: https://scienceforourcoast.org/PC-programs/coastal/hydrocoast-maps/