By Scott Longfield
A naturally occurring virus is being blamed for the hundreds of dolphin deaths along the Eastern seaboard this summer.
As more bottlenose dolphin wash ashore, Dr. Teri Rowels from the federal Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program said that morbillivirus is responsible for the large number of dolphin that have died this year along the Atlantic coast, and that this may continue into next spring.
The virus cannot be transmitted to humans.
Since July 9, Robert Schoelkopf, director of New Jersey’s Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) in Brigantine, has counted 74 dead dolphin along the Jersey Shore.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 488 dolphin have been stranded since Jan. 1 from New York to North Carolina.
The high number of dolphin deaths is similar to what happened in 1987 when more than 700 dolphin were washed up from New Jersey to Florida. Morbillivirus also was linked to their deaths, according to officials.
NOAA officials are urging people to stay away from dead or stranded dolphin and to contact the MMSC at 609-266-0538 or the local police department to report any sightings.