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Posted: Wednesday, 18 June 2014 7:42AM

Experts believe natural causes killed Slidell dolphin

Wildlife officials say it appears natural causes killed a dolphin that had become a common sight in a Slidell canal. The marine mammal had gone from welcome visitor to a sometimes dreaded sight.

The dolphin first appeared as a juvenile in the Northshore canal shortly after Hurricane Katrina, and after a while, it had turned aggressive towards people. Marine biologist Stacy Horstman with NOAA says it was that acclimation to humans that led to its unruly behavior.

"His aggressive behaviors were because people were interacting with him as a very young calf and got him acclimated to people, and caused his aggressive behaviors," explained Horstman. But she said by the time the wild animals behavior became a problem, it was too late to tray and relocate it.

"That was his home," she said. "He chose that area and if we moved him, he may not have survived."

But the dolphin's attachment to its home may have been what meant its doom -- recent rains increased the fresh water in the area. Horstman said when a dolphin spends too much time in water that isn't salty enough, it can develop infections that can prove fatal.

(stock image via NOAA)

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