Between February and April, 406 dolphins were found either stranded or reported dead offshore!
At first, Marine scientists were debating whether last year's massive oil spill or the winter cold snap were to blame.
However, the shocking increase in occurrences has prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to designate these deaths as an "unusual mortality event" or UME.
Not only are a large number of dolphins washing on shore, but most of them are very young.
Despite the oil spills traumatic effects on the marine environment in the gulf, investigating officials think the dolphin deaths may be completely independent from the oil spill and are looking "at the gamut of all the possibilities."
Even with 15 dolphin carasses washing up with oil on them since the spill, NOAA Fisheries Stranding Program Coordinator Dr. Teri Rowles said:
"We are looking at what is the impact of the oil spill and the response activities to the oil spill event, and what impact they had on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. We did not say that the dolphins have died because of the oil, just that they have come back with oil on them."
Let's hope they find out what is killing these dolphins and can possibly use the information to prevent further dolphin deaths.
[Image via AP Images.]