PHOTO: More dead dolphin babies found along Gulf Coast

A skin sample from a dead bottlenose dolphin that was found on Ono Island, Ala., is seen in a bag at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. Researchers say that more than a dozen young dolphins, either aborted before they reached maturity or dead soon after birth, have been collected along the Gulf Coast in the past two weeks -- about 10 times the normal number for the first two months of the year. Samples have been sent for testing to see whether the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a factor in their deaths.

AP Photo/ Patrick Semansky

A skin sample from a dead bottlenose dolphin that was found on Ono Island, Ala., is seen in a bag at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. Researchers say that more than a dozen young dolphins, either aborted before they reached maturity or dead soon after birth, have been collected along the Gulf Coast in the past two weeks -- about 10 times the normal number for the first two months of the year. Samples have been sent for testing to see whether the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a factor in their deaths.

— The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the number of dead dolphins found since Jan. 1 in the area affected by last year's oil spill is now 67, with 35 of them premature or newborn calves.

NOAA regional spokeswoman Kim Amendola says five dead calves were reported Friday in Mississippi or Alabama.

Scientists are looking into whether any unusual deaths in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill area may be related to toxins from oil or dispersants. However, they're also investigating whether it could be related to the cold weather or a disease.

Megan Broadway, spokeswoman for the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., says diseases are among known causes of so-called "abortion storms" in dolphins, when numerous females give birth prematurely.

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