A baby dolphin was found stranded on a Florida beach but despite efforts to help the creature, biologists decided it was already too late to save the animal.

Two Plastic Bags And A Piece Of Balloon In Dolphin's Stomach

The rough-toothed dolphin looked emaciated when it was found on the shore of Fort Myers Beach on April 23. Rescue workers tried to save the calf but it was in such poor condition, they decided to euthanize it.

It turns out the marine mammal consumed objects that may have contributed to its death. Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation's (FFWC), who conducted necropsy of the creature, found two plastic bags and a piece of balloon in the dolphin's stomach.

The trash may have contributed to the animal's death, albeit other factors are also possible such as the dolphin having an underlying illness, diseases, and maternal separation. Samples collected during necropsy will be analyzed to determine the real cause of the stranding and death.

Ocean Pollution Pose Risk To Marine Life

The preliminary findings nonetheless underscore current problems with plastic waste. Trash thrown in the ocean pose risk to cetaceans and marine life.

In 2016, 13 dead sperm whales that washed up on a coast in Germany were found to have ingested an assortment of man-made materials, which include a plastic bucket, part of a car engine cover, and a fishing net. In 2018, an endangered sea turtle that washed up on Alabama beach was found entangled in a beach chair.

"Globally, many types of marine organisms--from invertebrates and fish to turtles and Wales--have been confirmed to ingest debris," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a 2014 report "Direct health impacts include dietary dilution, gut blockage, starvation, laceration, ulceration, and secondary infection."

The FFWC warned the public about the potential consequences of using plastic and releasing balloons.

"This finding highlights the need to reduce single use plastic and to not release balloons into the environment," the FFWC said in a statement. "Please remember that marine mammals strand for a reason, often the animals are sick or injured."

Rough-toothed Dolphins

About 7,000 rough-toothed dolphins are estimated to be living in U.S. waters. These marine creatures can reach up to 8.5 feet in length and weigh about 350 pounds when fully grown.

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