Scientists Have Figured Out What's Behind Dolphin Die-offs - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Scientists Have Figured Out What's Behind Dolphin Die-offs

Posted: Updated:
BRIGANTINE, N.J. -

Anthony Zoppel isn't just fishing for striper. He's also fishing for answers, specifically, what's killing dolphins on New Jersey beaches.

"I fish here every weekend really. It's sad," he says.

Two more dolphins washed up in Stone Harbor over the weekend. Another washed up yesterday in Cape May.

"It's just sad to hear. Every other day or so you hear more dolphins washing up and it is a little scary that you don't know what's causing it," says Kristen Perlman of Brigantine.

This summer, more than 70 dolphins washed up in New Jersey alone. Nearly 500 up and down the East Coast. The mortality rate is nine times higher than average. Tonight, we finally have an answer. Federal officials say that the morbillivirus is to blame.

"Healthy animals will survive and weaker animals with other ailments will perish," says Bob Schoelkpt.

Bob Schoelkopf, the Director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, says that 37 dolphin carcasses have been taken to University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Veterinary Center in Chester County for testing. Tissue and teeth samples confirmed that the diagnosis was a virus.

Scientists know what's causing dolphins to be killed; unfortunately, they can't do anything about it. In fact they anticipate more dead dolphins to wash up on South Jersey beaches.

"I don't think there's anything anyone can do about it because it's a virus that we can't go out and inoculate every dolphin," says Bob Schoelkopf.

The same virus killed more than 700 dolphins in a similar kill off in 1987. The virus eventually ran it's course.

"I was worried that it would hit the fish we catch; flounder, blue fish striper who knows, it can go from fish to fish," says Anthony Zoppel of Marlton, New Jersey.

Experts say that the morbillivirus cannot spread to humans, but if you see a dolphin in the water, do not go near it.

"We had a problem in Stone Harbor where the lifeguards actually went out to the floating dead animal. Our biggest fear is that there are sharks underneath the water feeding on those animals," says Bob Schoelkopf.

Right now, marine scientists have no idea what causes the virus, but they have ruled out effects from Superstorm Sandy.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Police : 58-Year Old Woman Sexually Assaulted In Cobbs Creek

    Police : 58-Year Old Woman Sexually Assaulted In Cobbs Creek

    Thursday, August 28 2014 6:57 AM EDT2014-08-28 10:57:59 GMT
    Philadelphia Police are looking for a man wanted for a sexual assault in Cobbs Creek.The incident began on Saturday August 16 at 9:00 pm, a 58 year-old female, was on the 21 SEPTA bus going to her residence on the 6200 block of Chestnut Street.
    Philadelphia Police are looking for a man wanted for a sexual assault in Cobbs Creek.The incident began on Saturday August 16 at 9:00 pm, a 58 year-old female, was on the 21 SEPTA bus going to her residence on the 6200 block of Chestnut Street.
  • Vigil Held For Teen Killed On North Philadelphia Basketball Court

    Vigil Held For Teen Killed On North Philadelphia Basketball Court

    Thursday, August 28 2014 12:48 AM EDT2014-08-28 04:48:59 GMT
    A shooting on a North Philadelphia basketball court has left a 17-year-old man dead.
    A shooting on a North Philadelphia basketball court has left a 17-year-old man dead.
  • Swedesboro Liquor Store Owner Accused Of Racist Comments

    Local Liquor Store Owner Accused Of Racist Comments

    Thursday, August 28 2014 12:31 AM EDT2014-08-28 04:31:44 GMT
    A quiet little liquor store in Gloucester County is stirring up a big controversy. The store's owner is under fire accused of making racist comments to customers.
    A quiet little liquor store in Gloucester County is stirring up a big controversy. The store's owner is under fire accused of making racist comments to customers.
Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices