Florida wildlife biologists say they found two plastic bags and a piece of balloon in the stomach of a dolphin that had to be euthanized after being found stranded on a beach this week.
The female rough-toothed dolphin was found on Fort Myers Beach Tuesday. Wildlife officials made the decision to euthanize the dolphin after working for hours to try and help, the AP reports.
FWC biologists completed a necropsy on the dolphin Thursday and removed the plastic bags and balloon piece from the dolphin’s stomach.
“This finding highlights the need to reduce single-use plastic and to not release balloons into the environment,” FWC officials wrote on Facebook.
Biologists called it a significant finding but added that there are many other factors that need to be considered. They are looking into underlying illness, disease and maternal separation before determining a final cause of stranding and death.
“Samples collected during necropsy will be sent for analysis to help with this determination,” officials said.
The FWC is also reminding Floridians that marine mammals strand for a reason, usually because they are sick or injured. If you see a stranded marine animal, you should call the FWC and let them respond.
“Please don’t push the animal back into the water as it can delay examination and treatment and often results in the animal re-stranding in worse condition,” they said.
You can call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.