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A tide of dead infant dolphins has washed ashore along a 100-mile stretch of the Alabama and Mississippi coastlines in the past two weeks, and marine experts today said they believe last summer’s Gulf oil spill may be to blame.

“I believe this is very very unusual what we’re dealing with. It’s a tenfold increase in calves that are dying,” Moby Solangi, the head of the Mississippi based Institute for Marine Mammal Research, told ABC News. “Every year, we get one or two babies that die. Now, we’re seeing stillborn, or preemies dying.”

“With some, we’re not sure if they actually took a breath,” said Dr. Delphine Shannon, also of the IMMR.

The gestation period for bottlenose dolphins is between 11 and 12 months. “That means the mothers would have conceived between March and May. If the mothers are delivering their calves now and many are dying, that is significant,” Solangi said.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, unleashing a torrent of 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico — the largest spill in American history. At one point the spill covered about 70,000 square miles.

Solangi couldn’t directly link the two events but fears that the animals could have “ingested something that may have affected their reproduction.”

Solangi and his team say there’s a chance this could be an anomaly. “But in my 30 years of studying dolphins I have never seen anything like this. This is highly unusual.”

Click Here to read entire article- ABC News

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