GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A deceased newborn bottlenose dolphin was found off of south Litchfield Beach this week by a group conducting an inventory of sea turtles along area beaches.
The South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (S.C.U.T.E.) Facebook page posted a photo of the dolphin Tuesday evening, saying it was found dead at Midway Inlet.
After the dolphin was found by S.C.U.T.E. volunteers walking the beach, it was picked up by the National Marine Fisheries Service out of Ft. Johnson in Charleston, and Dr. Wayne McFee performed a necropsy, a S.C.U.T.E. representative said.
Dr. McFee said the results of the necropsy performed Wednesday were inconclusive.
"We do know the animal was nutritionally compromised and had nursed at least once,'" Dr. McFee said. "We believe the animal probably didn't live more than a couple of days based on chyle still visible in the mesentery. We won't know what happened until we get test results back which could take weeks."
Dr. McFee added that South Carolina experiences about 50 strandings of marine mammals every year, with about 80 percent of those being bottlenose dolphins.
If a beachgoer sees any live animal on the beach, it should not be pushed back into the water, Dr. McFee said.
"Those animals are sick and dying and wouldn't be on the beach if they were healthy so pushing them back does nothing but expose them to predation by sharks and cause them to strand somewhere else, making it difficult for trained responders to properly assess the animal," Dr. McFee said.
The hotline to call if you see a stranded marine mammal is 800-922-5431.
S.C.U.T.E volunteers walk along a 60-mile stretch of beach from Georgetown County up to North Myrtle Beach, observing and cataloging sea turtle nests and moving nests from unsafe areas of the beach.
Learn more about the organization here: http://www.debordieuscute.org/