This summer you may have seen the dolphin carcass that washed ashore on Fleeton beach. Officials believe that they have found the cause for mass dolphin fatalities that have been occurring u and down the mid-Atlantic seaboard. National Marine Fisheries scientists say at least one of the stranded dolphins appeared to have suffered from a measles-like “morbillivirus.”
Morbillivirus infections have been associated with previous large die-offs of dolphins and seals, but she cautioned that investigators were still evaluating the cause of this year’s strandings. Such outbreaks happen almost yearly along coastal regions; 60 have been declared since 1991. But the acceleration of dolphin deaths in the past week, 35, merited increased concern in this case, marine scientists said.
“This is the highest number that we have had for this time of year since 1987,” said Susan Barco, research coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach, Va. The 1987-88 outbreak saw the stranding deaths of more than 740 bottlenose dolphins from New Jersey to Florida, as well as deaths of humpback whales, as a catastrophe linked to morbillivirus and algae toxins. That year’s deaths triggered an outpouring of public concern about dolphins.
If you find a stranded or dead dolphin please do not touch the animal and call the Stranding Response 24-hour hotline at 757-385-7575
Read more about this from the links below.
Die-off of bottlenose dolphins, linked to virus, is worst in 25 years – Washington Post
Dolphin strandings, deaths seen off East Coast waters – USA Today
Dolphin deaths hit 100 in Virginia – Richmond Times Dispatch
Virus a suspect in dolphin strandings along bay -Pilotonline.com