Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Are The East Coast Dolphins Doing?

Photo Credit: NOAA
Clean Ocean Action continues to monitor the investigation of recent dolphin deaths off the coast of the Jersey Shore.  Please read our blog entries here and here from earlier this week and August 13, 2013 for more background information on the increase in dolphin deaths this summer.

In a USA Today story dated Tuesday, August 27, Todd Bates reported a total of 357 bottlenose dolphin deaths from early July through Monday August 26, 2013 from New York to North Carolina, according to federal officials. 

NOAA has determined that 32 of 33 dolphins tested from all five states are either suspected or confirmed positive for cetacean morbillivirus, a measles-like virus. For 11 samples, genetic sequencing has confirmed this finding.  Teri Rowles of the federal Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program notes that the outbreak may last into next spring.  She says there is also a risk that the virus may be spreading to other marine mammal species, so researchers are looking into other deaths over the last six months.

“Since July 9, 74 dead or dying dolphins have washed up along New Jersey’s coastline. [Some] have been confirmed with morbillivirus,”according to Bob Schoelkopf, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center’s Executive Director. “[Others] have been tested for the virus, with results of those tests pending,” he said.

Ongoing investigations include the examination of other potential contributing factors, such as, pathogen, biotoxins, changes in habitat, etc.

Rowles added, “at this point, there isn't anything that we can do to stop the virus. We don't have a vaccine that is developed that could be easily deployed in a wild population of bottlenose dolphins or subpopulation of bottlenose dolphins at this point.”

Today, the Christie Administration directed additional state resources toward the investigation of the bottlenose dolphin die-off.  According to a NJDEP press release, “these steps include using Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) aircraft and expanding patrols by DEP conservation officers. The Administration is also providing the use of a Department of Agriculture lab for testing, a move that will greatly help the nonprofit Marine Mammal Stranding Center, on the front lines of responding to the deaths since early July.”

According to scientists, the 2013 dolphin die-off comes 25 years after over 740 bottlenose dolphins died along the coast from New Jersey to Florida from 1987-88.  Morbillivirus was eventually linked to their deaths as well (Reference: Lipscomb et al. 1994).

Clean Ocean Action will continue to follow this story and provide up-to-date information on the status of the investigation of the dolphin die-off in the Atlantic.

For more information visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment