Experts are trying to figure out what's caused an unusually high amount of dolphins to wash up dead along the Jersey coastline. Officials say with so much activity, it could take weeks, if not longer, to get important test results.
"It's been crazy, even on days off I've had to go in." The past few weeks have been non-stop for the staff at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. 17 bottlenose dolphins have washed up dead in just 19 days on beaches in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May counties. "It's definitely, it's hard to take, cause you do wanna see them alive," said Mike Kapp, a Stranding Center Field Technician, "You do want to see them get better."
"I'm concerned because it's a higher than average number for us." Officials are waiting for test results to figure out causes of death, but say at least four of the dolphins had viral pneumonia. "The results we have had, showing viral pneumonia, is not indicative of a typical death of an animal," said Bob Schoelkopf, Founder and Director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, "there's something more involved here. We're not quite sure what it may be at this point."
One of the dolphins has tested positive for morbillivirus, something that caused about 90 to wash up dead back in 1987. Officials say that's the last time they saw unusually high numbers like these. "Just looking at the dates and everything, the pattern so far is about the same," said Schoelkopf, "Hopefully it doesn't continue."
Officials hope to get more results back in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, they hope things finally start to slow down. "With all these dolphins washing up, it's a bit much at times," said Kapp.
Officials remind anyone who comes across a dolphin or any other sea creature on a beach to keep their distance and to contact the Stranding Center immediately.