California IN BRIEF : SAN FRANCISCO : Dolphin Strandings Blamed on Disease
Disease is probably to blame for an unusual number of dolphin strandings along the California coast earlier this year, marine scientists said. In a peculiar episode that sparked a statewide hunt for a cause, 46 common dolphins washed ashore during a nine-week period ending June 4. Thirty-six were stranded along a 110-mile stretch of coast in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Initially, environmentalists and some marine mammal experts speculated that an oil spill or some other pollutant was the culprit. Other suspected causes ranged from a toxic “red tide” of algae blooms to the use of sonar by research vessels mapping the topography of the ocean floor. Now investigators believe the mammals died of natural causes after being drawn close to shore by a food source.