Published August 03, 2013
NORFOLK, Va. – Officials are trying to determine the cause of a sharp increase in dolphin deaths in Virginia and other East Coast states.
Five beached dolphins were found in Virginia alone on Thursday. In July, nearly four dozen dead dolphins were found, mostly in Norfolk and along the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay. That’s up from the typical six or seven usually picked up in July by the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team.
“We’ve had a steady number coming in at the beginning of the summer, and starting last week, the numbers spiked,” Susan Barco, research coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, told The Virginian-Pilot (http://bit.ly/11x9uEv). “We’re just trying to keep our head above water.”
Delaware and Maryland also have seen an uptick in dolphin deaths. According to The Press of Atlantic City, 10 dead dolphins were picked up in Delaware between June and early July, when in a typical year only five or six are recorded. In Maryland, authorities said a spike had been noticed but exact numbers of deaths were not known.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has sent inquiries to stranding centers along the East Coast to determine whether spikes have been seen elsewhere.
In New Jersey, initial necropsy results have pointed to pneumonia, but Maggie Mooney-Seus, spokeswoman for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, was not ready to connect Virginia’s die-off to what may be affecting dolphins in other states.