Hundreds of dolphins may die on East Coast before killer is identified
A silent, mysterious plague is claiming the lives of scores of bottlenose dolphins off the mid-Atlantic coast. Over July and August so far, 228 dead or dying dolphins have washed up on beaches from New Jersey to Virginia, and the numbers continue to climb.
The dead include adult animals and calves, males and females. Sometimes, the animals that wash ashore are dead for days. Others arrive on their last breath. None have survived.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has formally classified the mass deaths as an “Unusual Mortality Event.” The daily arrival of dead dolphins is an ominous sign of a larger, ailing coastal ecosystem, researchers say. It could even signal the return of a deadly sickness that raged for 10 months in the late 1980s, and felled more than 700 bottlenoses before the carnage ended.
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