UPDATE: Dead dolphin discovered on Fairhope’s North Beach

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 4:03 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2023 at 5:04 PM CDT
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UPDATE: FOX10 News has an update on the dolphin found washed up on Fairhope’s North Beach.

According to researchers, the dolphin had signs of prolonged freshwater exposure, which explains the skin lesions. They said the dolphin was underweight and dehydrated, but researchers said it’s still not clear how the mammal died.

This is the 12th dolphin stranding since January in Alabama, 10 of which were recorded in Baldwin County.

Anyone who encounters a stranded, injured or dead marine animal should not push it back in the water and should call the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network 24-hours a day at 1-877-WHALE-HELP to be connected to a trained responder.



FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) - Marine Biologists with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab are looking into what caused the death of a dolphin found at Fairhope’s North Beach Monday morning, March 27, 2023. Someone taking a morning walk discovered it floating near the shoreline.

It was a quick response by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network when they got the call on the dead dolphin. What experts are categorizing as a young or sub-adult bottlenose dolphin will now undergo a necropsy to determine what caused its death.

What marine biologists categorize as a sub-adult bottlenose dolphin was discovered washed...
What marine biologists categorize as a sub-adult bottlenose dolphin was discovered washed ashore by beach-goer(Hal Scheurich)

Cristina Diaz-Clark with the Marine Mammal Research Program said a discovery like this is not that unusual. The network gets 50 to 60 calls a year for stranded and dead marine mammals along Alabama’s coast and 95-percent of them are bottlenose dolphins.

“We do have some hot spots, but we always ask everyone to make sure that they’re keeping a lookout because they can always end up anywhere that there’s water but definitely, this side of the bay’s a hot spot. Dauphin Island’s a hot spot. Orange Beach can be a hot spot. It just depends on the time of year,” Diaz-Clark explained.

The activity on Fairhope’s public beach attracted the attention of some passerby’s, curious about what had happened and what will be done next.

“I think it’s wonderful that we’ve got people looking out for the animals and wildlife here and I put their phone number in my phone,” said Bob Wilson, out for a walk with his dog, Maisy.

“I enjoy seeing them from a distance so much. It worries me, what might have happened,” said a concerned Denise D’Oliveira. “I hope they can figure it out.”

Anytime there’s a stranding, resulting in death like the one Monday, Diaz-Clark said they’re able to learn a lot about the population by studying the dead animals. The first priority will be to learn what caused the death. She said ulcerations to the skin like the ones seen on this dolphin are often caused by overexposure to fresh water.

“Always could have, but what I’ve also learned in this industry is that you can’t just look at it. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, so we can’t always make a full decision or assessment until we do our full necropsy or what’s called an animal autopsy,” Diaz-Clark said.

It could take several weeks before the cause of death is known. If you come a stranded or dead dolphin, call the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network 24-hours a day at 1-877-WHALE-HELP.