Monster hurricanes often come with an unexpected silver lining.

Meghan Overdeep
October 3, 2017

Harvey, Irma and Jose devastated large portions of the United States last month, but as marine scientists learned post-Katrina, monster hurricanes often come with an unexpected silver lining for some of our favorite aquatic mammals.

Scientific American recently reminded us of the dolphin baby boom caused by Hurricane Katrina, and now experts believe that the same is likely to occur following this latest string of storms. Biologists from University of Southern Mississippi first discovered the connection between hurricanes and dolphin populations in 2007, two years after Katrina. They were tracking Gulf of Mexico dolphins and when they noticed "a massive increase in the number of dolphin calves."

There are several theories as to why this happens, but the largest factor seems to be the impact hurricanes have on the fishing industry. As you might recall, in Mississippi alone Katrina temporarily knocked nearly 90 percent the commercial fishing, crabbing, and shrimping vessels out of commission. As Scientific American puts it, less fishing means more food, which “makes pregnant females more likely to deliver healthy babies, and it also makes them better able to nourish their offspring through their milk.”

Whatever the reason, we know we’re looking forward to a possible dolphin baby boom!