Dolphin Deaths Continue

More the 100 dead dolphins have washed up on the beaches of north Florida over the past two months, and Rick Flagg reports that environmentalists are blaming manmade pollution for the problem.

North Florida’s beaches are some of the best in the world, and the dolphins that frolic along the shore are a favorite with tourists and locals alike.

But there's a killer lurking in the Gulf of Mexico. It's already claimed more than 100 bottlenose dolphins in what has been officially described as "an unusual marine mammal mortality event.”

"There's a bacteria that's killing these dolphins and the other sea life that's found in red tide, and red tide is fueled by excessive nutrients in the water."

Nutrients like phosphate and nitrogen washing into rivers from nearby farms or are dumped into the gulf by paper mills.

Young says state and federal regulators are not enforcing environmental laws. The clean water network is also concerned about the dumping of millions of gallons of treated phosphate waste from the piney point facility in Tampa. Officials at the Department of Environmental Protection say there's no proven connection to the dolphin deaths, but they refused to talk on camera. Regardless of who's to blame, it's a public relations nightmare for a state that depends on clean water and beaches to attract tourists.

"Well, having dead marine animals washing up on our beaches at a time when we have all these visitors coming to the panhandle doesn't say good things about Florida's commitment to water quality."

Environmentalists say the dead dolphins are like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, a warning that the gulf can't handle any more of mankind's mess.

Officials at the National Resources Defense Council have also released a report accusing the Bush Administration in Washington of engaging in an outright assault on the environment by weakening more than 150 different environmental laws and regulations.


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