Thursday, March 03, 2005

Dozens of Dolphins Strand Selves in Keys

"MARATHON, Fla. (AP) - Some 49 dolphins stranded themselves Wednesday off the Florida Keys and more than 20 were in a nearby canal or boat channel, officials said.

The rough-tooth dolphins were on flats and sand bars about a quarter of a mile off Marathon, said Laura Engleby, a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service. They were in about 6 inches of water at low tide, she said.

Marine mammals may strand when they are sick, injured or disoriented, she noted. 'Right now the stranding network is busy stabilizing all the dolphins,' Engleby said.

Denise Jackson, a member of the Marine Mammal Rescue Team assisting the dolphins, said darkness and the extreme low tide were complicating efforts.

'We're running boats in and out of an unlit channel at night,' she said.

Marathon is on Key Vaca, in the middle of the Florida Keys about 46 miles east of Key West. The dolphins were stranded on the ocean side of the island. "

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