#DolphinDeaths - Hundreds of bottlenose dolphins have died in strandings along the east coast of the United States this summer - and a measles-like virus could be to blame.
As The Irish Times reports, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is currently investigating the extraordinary die-off, which has been tentatively connected to morbillivirus, an immune system suppressor similar to the virus that causes human measles.
In numbers not seen since the late 1980s, as many as 333 dolphin carcasses have been found on the shoreline between New York and North Carolina, more than 10 times the average for this time of year.
Researchers from universities and marine institutes are concentrating on the Virginia coastline, where the majority of the dead cetaceans have been found, and believe they have identified evidence of morbillivirus in nearly all sampled carcasses.
Wired Science says scientists do not yet know what caused the outbreak, though they speculate that dolphins may simply have lost their natural immunity to the virus since the last attack.
And according to the NOAA's Teri Rowles: “At this point, there isn’t anything to stop the virus.”
As of yet there are no indications if the virus could migrate to dolphin populations on this side of the Atlantic, particularly in the designated cetacean sanctuary of Irish waters.
Wired Science has much more on the story HERE.