Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Increase in Dolphins mysteriously Deaths along East Coast

Hundreds of dead bottlenose dolphins have been discovered off the East Coast recently, and researchers have yet to discover the cause of the mass deaths. According to reports, 124 dolphins were found dead, stranded along the Atlantic coast. In the late 1980s, a similar incident occurred during the same season, killing off over 700 sea mammals, according to federal officials.

On average, the number of dead dolphins reported so far was seven times higher than usual. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that most of the dolphins were already dead prior to their inspection upon arrival. The few living ones had to be euthanized. The coast extending from New York to Chesapeake Bay was littered with dead dolphins, which observers believe died possibly because of viruses, toxic waste, bacteria or algae poison. Last month, over 90 dolphins were found dead on the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, an exponential increase, according to the NOAA, since only 10 bodies were retrieved last year.

"It's very alarming," commented National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's mammal biologist Trevor Spradlin. "The fear is if there is a massive disease outbreak or contamination outbreak, that it could have a serious impact on a local [dolphin] population or even a broader portion of the population." The mass deaths have forced the federal agency to issue a mortality event declaration for the bottlenose dolphins, which in turn gives researchers and experts more funding from the government to pinpoint the cause of the problem.

Finding the cause might prove to be a very difficult process. Sixty unusual mortality events have been declared, but only 29 of them have been concretely resolved. "We're assuming that it's some sort of disease process; we just don't have any idea what that is," said Mark Swingle from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

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