Whale dies in national seashore in Panhandle

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - Scientists are investigating the death of a small whale in the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Florida Panhandle.

Park rangers say they found the 9-foot melon-headed whale early Tuesday struggling and surrounded by sharks. The whale died before stranding experts could arrive.

A necropsy has been scheduled at the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. Stranding coordinator Steve Shippee tells the Pensacola News Journal (http://on.pnj.com/1yqHkJX ) that it’s the 22nd stranding of a dolphin or whale in the Panhandle so far this year.

Federal experts are investigating the deaths of 1,239 dolphins and other marine mammals that have died along the U.S. Gulf Coast since February 2010. Scientists have ruled out morbillivirus, which is blamed for die-offs in the Atlantic, and biotoxins such as red tide that commonly cause die-offs.

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Information from: Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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