A bottlenose dolphin was found dead Thursday afternoon in Bluffton's May River, the second dolphin to have died in Beaufort County this week, according to a marine biologist.
The dolphin was spotted floating in the river near Palmetto Bluff at about 12:40 p.m., according to Wayne McFee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
As of late Thursday afternoon, authorities had not been able to retrieve the 5-foot dolphin. McFee said the changing tide was moving the dolphin's body, making it difficult to find.
It was the 27th dolphin stranded along South Carolina's coast this year, according to McFee. In 2013, there were 112 stranded dolphins in the state -- a record year, he said.
On Monday, a dying bottlenose dolphin washed ashore on Hilton Head Island. The dolphin was found alive on the beach between Sea Pines and Marriott's Grande Ocean Resort at about 8 a.m., but it died before marine biologists could reach it, McFee said. An official cause of death has not yet been determined, but the dolphin appeared to be an older mammal because its teeth were worn down to the gums, McFee said. The dolphin also possibly had pneumonia and a weakening heart muscle, he said.
NOAA is awaiting results to see whether the dolphin had morbillivirus, which it won't know for several weeks.
This virus has ravaged dolphin populations along the East Coast, and 95 percent of dolphins tested for the virus have tested positive, McFee said.
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.
- Dying bottlenose found on Hilton Head, adding to the rise in SC dolphin deaths, March 17, 2014: http://bit.ly/1hJtTLY
- Dolphin deaths spreading to South Carolina, October 24, 2013: http://bit.ly/1kNdyss