NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Federal officials say a virus is likely what's causing hundreds of dead bottlenose dolphins to wash ashore along the East Coast.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 488 dolphins have been stranded between New York and North Carolina since July 1. That's more than nine times the historical average for the region during July and August.
Earlier this month, NOAA declared an unusual mortality event to provide additional resources to study what's causing the deaths.
In a post on its website, NOAA says the tentative cause of the deaths is the cetacean morbillivirus. Dolphins with morbillivirus typically experience skin lesions, brain infections and pneumonia. The virus killed off more than 700 dolphins in the 1980s.
The disease is passed from dolphin to dolphin. It can't be transmitted to humans.
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(WAVY) More dead dolphins are washing ashore along the East Coast. The plethora of standings is a mystery plaguing biologists.
103 bottlenose dolphins have been found on Virginia beaches this year, and 62 of those strandings were discovered between July 1 and August 5 along the Chesapeake Bay. The latest report came Wednesday afternoon on the Eastern Shore.
Because of the deaths, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an Unusual Mortality Event in the Mid-Atlantic. NOAA says the deaths are more than seven times the historical average.
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