Mysterious Dolphin Death Rate 7 Times Above Normal

8/22/13 Update: U.S. Dolphin Deaths Rise to 300; Cause Still a Mystery

"The spike follows a general trend in unusual mortality events that have occurred in recent decades in the United States. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, for instance, where there's an ongoing unusual mortality event, over a thousand dolphins and whales have washed up dead since February 2010. (Also see "Dolphin-Baby Die-Off in Gulf Puzzles Scientists [2011].") The "concern is we're doing more and more to protect dolphins from harm, yet dolphin strandings are on the rise," Matthew Huelsenbeck, a marine scientist at the nonprofit Oceana, said earlier this month. "No one seems to have a solid grasp as to what's going on." End of excerpt.

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I find it amazing how scientists are so baffled as to why so many animals are killed by the oceans... It's because we are KILLING THEM. Oil spills, toxic chemicals, fertilizers, plastic waste, radiation, climate change, overfishing... Can we stop acting so surprised when we see the food chain disrupted and animals and marine life dying as if we are in denial regarding what we are doing to this planet and especially to its water?

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Mysterious Dolphin Death Rate 7 Times Above Normal

Bottlenose dolphins are washing up on mid-Atlantic beaches in staggering numbers this summer. In response, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared an "unusual mortality event," and researchers say the death rate is seven times higher than normal for the East Coast in July.

"This is the highest number that we have had for this time of year since 1987," Susan Barco, research coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center told USA Today. And what happened in '87? Morbillivirus, a virus related to measles, killed over 740 dolphins along the East Coast in a three month span. According to the Press of Atlantic City, four of the 28 dolphins that washed up in New Jersey last month had the morbillivirus, with lab tests pending for the rest of the carcasses.

“The minute (the dolphins) started coming in, there were similarities (to the 1987 outbreak),” Bob Schoelkopf, founding director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, told the Press of Atlantic City. The huge number of strandings has put an enormous financial strain on groups like his that lack institutional backing, but the NOAA's declaration of an "unusual mortality event" will direct some federal funding to the Center.

An “unusual mortality event” is rare; the Press of Atlantic City reports that only 59 have been declared nationwide since 1991. This month's declaration comes after a particularly deadly month for bottlenose dolphins, with at least 124 strandings reported from Virginia to New York since July. Last month, 13 bottlenose strandings were reported on Long Island from Long Beach to Montauk, along with one in Coney Island and one in the Rockaway, Newsday reports.

So far this year, 201 dolphins have been reported stranded. Locally, the year started on a grim note with a poor dolphin dying in the Gowanus Canal.

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This is heartbreaking. Forty nine dolphins off the NJ coast since July 10th this year have washed up. It is obvious something is poisoning them. Could it be the Corexit sprayed in millions of tons by BP after they killed the Gulf in 2010 finally making its way up the current loop in concert with a virus exacerbated by record warmth of our ocean? People seem to forget that tragedy happened as they are pushing Fukushima out of their minds as well.

We humans are killing the very ecosystems we and other species also need to survive. That is why deaths like this are so heartbreaking because they not only happen to species that did not cause them and cannot escape them, they were precipitated by us. People need to understand that what happens to other species should be a red flag to us. Dolphins are mammals and this "unusual mortality event" could go up the food chain.

Also, surface temperatures off the East Coast have been at record warmth, so this may also be a factor in increased activity of viruses. Climate change IS HERE and it is affecting all species.



I would hope to get the truth from government officials, but that hope isn't very strong. Whatever this is I am very saddened at seeing the deaths of these beautiful creatures. It is also a sign that we as humans have lost touch with our purpose on this planet. We better wake up.

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