2011-2012 Bottlenose Dolphin Unusual Mortality Event in Texas
On May 9, 2012, NOAA declared an Unusual Mortality Event for bottlenose dolphins in Texas. The UME lasted from November 2011-March 2012 and included 126 bottlenose dolphins. The majority of those stranded in 5 counties: Aransas, Calhoun, Kleburg, Galveston, and Brazoria.
There are seven criteria used to determine whether a mortality event is "unusual." A group of marine mammal experts, called the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events, determines whether strandings meet one or more of the criteria before officially declaring a UME. The experts concluded the dolphin strandings in Texas met at least three of the seven criteria established for designation of a UME. They were:
- A marked increase in the magnitude or a marked change in the nature of morbidity, mortality, or strandings when compared with prior records.
- The species, age, or sex composition of the affected animals is different than that of animals that are normally affected.
- Affected animals exhibit similar or unusual pathologic findings, behavior patterns, clinical signs, or general physical condition (e.g., blubber thickness).
- Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.
- Marine Mammal Protection.
- Report a stranded dolphin or any marine mammal, alive or dead, to the marine mammal stranding network.
- Unusual Mortality Events.