Dolphin Deaths Investigation Goes National


graphic courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Please see our previous post :

Beachings: Are We Washed Up, Too?

As we posted on fb and twitter earlier this week, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has declared the unprecedented number of dolphin deaths in the Atlantic an “unusual mortality event”.


“Current bottlenose dolphin strandings are over nine times the historical average for the months of July and August for the Mid-Atlantic Region. All age classes of bottlenose dolphins are involved and strandings range from a few live animals to mostly dead animals with many very decomposed. Many dolphins have presented with lesions on their skin, mouth, joints, or lungs.”

Thankfully, someone is listening.

The Infographics that explain how bad it is:

The good news is this declaration should* help bring federal funding to help research what is happening. Don’t forget, many oceanographic INTERNS who do much of the work are going back to school, further slowing the process.

Their hypothesis is that it is a virus, the Morbillivirus.

From NOAA: keep in mind they’ve only tested 27 of the 500 , but…

“The tentative cause of the UME is being attributed to cetacean morbillivirus, based upon preliminary diagnostic testing and discussion with disease experts. To date 100% (27 of 27) of dolphins tested are suspect or confirmed positive for morbillivirus. Of these 27 dolphins, samples from 5 dolphins have been confirmed as cetacean morbillivirus via genetic sequencing.

The UME investigation is still ongoing and additional contributory factors to the UME are under investigation including other pathogens, biotoxins, range expansion, etc.

Further evaluations will continue over the next several months as new animals are found or new evidence determines the direction of the investigation. These rigorous investigations may take several more months to complete. Additional studies are underway to better understand the characteristics of morbillivirus and the potential impacts of this virus on dolphin stocks. These studies are in collaboration with several NOAA laboratories and science centers, stranding network members, non-profit research organizations and academic partners”


I would like to remind everybody that just because we have a potential reason for this does not mean we do not need to still be vigilant, to make sure we are doing everything we can and are not doing the things we know will hurt the environment.

This still doesn’t explain the giant sea turtles, sharks etc that are washing up. This also does not posit a correlation between this event and the massive number of dolphin deaths and over 280 manatee deaths reported this past year in Florida.

Deaths of Manatees, Dolphins and Pelicans Point to Estuary at Risk

To report a live or dead stranded dolphin, please call the local marine mammal stranding network
In the Northeast U.S. – 1-866-755-6622


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