Bites at Animal Planet

21 Aug

Dead dolphins across East Coast leave scientists confused

Over 70 dead dolphins have washed up on the shores of Virginia this summer, according to CNN. (Photo Credit: moodboard/Corbis)

When you go to the beach, what do you expect to find? Probably sunbathers, sandcastles and obnoxious tourists.

Dead dolphins, however?

For some beachgoers this summer, it’s unfortunately true. An article from CNN revealed there were 228 recorded dolphin deaths this year from New York to Virginia, according to federal authorities. State officials in Virginia also shared that out of the more than 164 dolphin deaths in state waters this year, 78 carcasses washed ashore in August. Making these figures all the more startling is that there were only 111 deaths recorded last year.

So what’s killing these dolphins? Scientists don’t know for sure, but suspect it could be due to morbillivirus, a pathogen that wiped out over 700 dolphins across the East Coast in the late 1980s. If it is in fact morbillivirus, containing it will be almost impossible. Given their friendliness and regular contact with one another, dolphins spread the disease easily, and their migration habits make it tough for humans to help them.

Want to learn more about dolphins? Watch our Ultimate Guide to Dolphins video playlist and look through our dolphin photo gallery.

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