GULFPORT, Miss. -- He's a young, hearing-impaired dolphin named Apollo -- and he's scrappy.
"He's got a pretty adventurous personality," said trainer Kelly Pulis.
Apollo is about 3 years old and was discovered near death off Grand Isle late last year. He's one of the 893 marine mammals found stranded along the northern Gulf Coast since 2010. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has labeled it an "Unusual Mortality Event."
"We are seeing a spike in dolphin strandings," said Dr. Moby Solangi, executive director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.
Since the start of this year, Dr. Solangi said marine mammal strandings have been climbing, with 29 in Louisiana and 23 in Mississippi so far.
"The unusual part in Mississippi is that 18 of the 23 are baby dolphins," he said.
NOAA is tracking the strandings and their map shows that, in Mississippi and Louisiana, there have been seven dolphin strandings just in the past week alone. The most recent strandings in Louisiana happened in two places -- one in Lake Catherine and the other on the beach along Lake Pontchartrain in Slidell.
So why are the strandings still happening three years after they started? Answers are tough to come by. Dr. Solangi said because of the ongoing investigation and litigation involving the BP Oil Spill, they can't share their findings.
"We have been advised not to discuss our findings or any results from our necropsies or analysis," he said.
In the meantime, Apollo's recovery is beating the odds.
"He's almost there," Pulis said, as Apollo prepares to be removed from quarantine and placed with other dolphins at the center.
For more information on the strandings and data collected by NOAA, click here.