Dolphin dilemmas

By Connie Orcutt • Published: February 1st, 2014
Category: Animal Airwaves

During the last half of 2013, record numbers of bottlenose dolphins stranded along the Atlantic coast from New York to Florida. While a few lived, most were found dead.

Preliminary tests and consultation with disease experts focused on cetacean morbillivirus [more-billy-VIRUS] as the cause. This virus is related to those that cause distemper in dogs and measles in people but is unique to whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Twenty-five years ago, another morbillivirus outbreak involved over 740 bottlenose dolphins along the Atlantic coast. That event helped prompt formation of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. As part of that program, volunteer stranding networks were set up in the Atlantic coastal states.

If you spot a stranded dolphin that is alive or dead, contact your marine mammal stranding network. In Florida, that number is 1-888-404-FWCC.