More than 200 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have washed ashore along the East Coast this summer. This alarming number is seven times higher than what's normally seen in the Mid-Atlantic region - a statistic which caused the National Marine Fisheries Service to declare an "unusual mortality event."
Unfortunately, following the declaration of the the event last week, the has been no curb in the number of dolphins stranding on our shores. It is estimated that 25 dolphins were found in Virginia just over the weekend.
"We don't know exactly what's causing it, but we suspect it might be a virus called the morbillivirus," our VP of Biological Programs, Brent Whitaker, told CNN's Brian Todd yesterday during an interview here in Baltimore. Click below to watch the entire interview:
The morbillivirus, a culprit very similar to the measles, killed approximately 740 dolphins in a similar event along the East Coast in 1987.
Although the virus has been found in some of the dolphins studied this year, it will take months for the federal investigation to produce a clear answer on what's behind this event.
As part of the Northeast Stranding Network, our Animal Rescue and Animal Health teams have been deeply engaged in the efforts to study these dolphins and determine a cause of death.
Stay tuned to the blog for more updates!