MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. (AP) - A sunburned bottlenose dolphin was rescued after being stranded in a thick bed of seagrass at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
A kayaker first spotted the stranded dolphin and SeaWorld Orlando staff later went out to free the adult male bottlenose dolphin Thursday at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
The dolphin, who weighs about 350 pounds and measures eight feet long, was suffering from severe sun exposure and another unknown sickness. Rescuers covered him in a white sheet to keep him cool.
Florida Today (http://tinyurl.com/m88zovh ) reports the dolphin was taken to SeaWorld's Orlando facility to recover. He's currently in stable condition and eating and the staff says they're cautiously optimistic about his recovery.
But staff are concerned that something is plaguing dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon.
SeaWorld's staff has responded to 47 stranded dolphins this year in that area, which is about twice the usual rate. Most of the dolphins have been dead and emaciated.
"Right now, we haven't found anything to link them together," said Teresa Mazza, research assistant with Hubbs-SeaWord Research Institute in Melbourne Beach of this year's dolphin deaths in the lagoon. "We've had six animals in the last six days."
Federal wildlife officials are also investigating the deaths.
Information from: Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.), http://www.floridatoday.com
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