Although research will continue, NOAA said it has collected enough evidence to declare the virus as the “tentative cause” in the most recent string of deaths as well. Morbillivirus is found in a broad range of mammals, and dolphins with it typically experience symptoms such as skin lesions, brain infections and pneumonia. The virus is usually spread through inhalation of respiratory particles or direct contact between animals, although officials said there’s no risk of humans catching it.
Originally published Aug 1, 2013
There is growing concern over large number of dead dolphins this month.
Mark Swingle, Director of Research and Conservation at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center says the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team has responded to 82 bottle-nosed dolphin strandings in 2013, with 44 of those happening in the month of July.
Right now, researchers are trying to figure out how and why the dolphins are dying, but initial examinations suggest it’s not from typical human interactions like boat propellers or fishing nets.
“This has not been that way. These animals don’t appear to have been involved in human activities, at least on cursory examination,” Swingle said.
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is hoping testing of samples of tissue they are collecting from the dolphins may shed light on what’s happening.
Almost all are male. They are conducting tests for disease and toxicity and checking with other states to see if this is occurring elsewhere. As the expert noted, anytime you have a pulse of mass mortality like this, it is a cause for concern. They hope to find the cause quickly.
UPDATE: (20-Aug-2013) The mass death continue and it’s putting a strain on researchers who can’t handle all the bodies.