Featured Image Credit: Anson Antony via Unsplash
By: Sarah Sharkey
The beaches along the coast of Delaware have recently been plagued with multiple bottlenose dolphin carcasses. The latest total was 13 dead dolphins in the past few weeks. The sightings span the entire coast.
The number is very high and it has experts worried. The average number of dolphin carcasses around this time of the year is only 5, so what is causing the increase? No one is quite sure.
The carcasses have all been too decomposed to examine for a cause of death. This is likely because the dolphin died at sea and it took many days for it to reach the shore. The Merr Institute is a marine mammal protection organization and it is taking steps to understand the cause of these deaths.
The latest carcass had tissue samples taken and a lab is currently trying to determine a cause of death from that sample. One observation made by Suzanne Thurman of the Merr Institute is that most of the animals have large cuts that could be attributed to boat collisions.
Along the broader coastline of the mid-Atlantic, a rash of dolphin deaths in 2013 and 2015 was attributed to a terminal virus by NOAA. It could potentially be a similar situation, but more tests will need to be done on tissue samples to confirm that.
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