‘Canaries in a coal mine’

Bottlenose dolphin die-off bodes ill for planetary health

Bottlenose dolphins are dying off at a concerning rate in the southeastern United States.

The recent die-off of more than 1,000 bottlenose dolphins “is clearly bad news,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. “This particular species has suffered a huge impact all over the Southeast,” said Blair Mase, a marine-mammal specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, of the bottlenose (pictured).

The deaths of the dolphins are particularly disturbing because they are “not unlike canaries in a coal mine,” the article noted; in other words, as Greg Bossart, chief veterinary officer of the Georgia Aquarium, was quoted as saying, dolphins are “sentinels for ocean and human health.”

“We’ve used the ocean as our toilet,” Bossart said, “and now it’s starting to catch up with us.”