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Four Dolphins Found Dead after Stranding on Santa Rosa Island

Necropsies to be performed on three of the animals at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Staff from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service responded Friday with members of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network to a report of five northern right whale dolphins stranded on Santa Rosa Island, approximately 35 miles southwest of Santa Barbara.

With aerial assistance from NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, four of the five animals were found, all deceased, and recovered for analysis. The response team consisted of personnel from NOAA’s Southwest Regional Office in Long Beach, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the National Park Service and Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute.

Dr. Frances Gulland, the Marine Mammal Center’s director of veterinary science, will lead the team in conducting necropsies on three of the animals at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, according to Jim Milbury of NOAA. The cause of death will likely not be available for several months, he said.

Northern right whale dolphins are approximately six to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 250 pounds. They typically travel in herds of 100 to 200 and can swim in bursts of speed up to 22 mph, Milbury said. They exist throughout the North Pacific Ocean and are believed to number about 68,000.

The Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program is a national volunteer network of marine mammal professionals authorized by NOAA under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to respond, investigate, monitor and study marine mammal strandings.

Noozhawk staff writer Laurie Jervis can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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