Dead dolphins continue to wash up, reason remains a mystery - NBC40.net

Dead dolphins continue to wash up, reason remains a mystery

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BRIGANTINE -

The number of dead or dying dolphins that have washed up in New Jersey is still rising, with researchers continuing their work into trying to figure out why. Officials at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center say the increased calls have stretched their limited resources thin.

“It's been a lot of work for the staff,” To say they've been busy, “a lot of running around,” would be an understatement. “Luckily, I have a very dedicated staff that's working very hard.” Staffers that have been working around the clock since the beginning of July, responding to 65 dead or dying dolphins washing up along the coast of New Jersey. “We're the only ones that respond to it,” said Bob Schoelkopf, Founding Director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, “we're the only ones paying the $200 per animal for the pathology, plus the transport fees, and gas and tolls. That all comes out of the Stranding Center's pocket.”

Relying heavily on donations, the non-profit has had to dig deep this summer, especially since despite their limited resources, their services have been in such high demand. “We had to raise enough money to buy a van, a used one, to carry the load,” said Schoelkopf, “because that's our lifeline, to get those dolphins up to New Bolton- that's a four hour trip.”

That's where the dolphins are taken to be studied out in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, part of the University of Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, in the hopes of determining why so many are dying. So far this summer, nearly 230 have died from New York to Virginia - the deadliest season for dolphins since nearly 750 of them died more than 25 years ago.

While many want answers about why these deaths are happening, it could take sometime to figure it out. Back in 1987, it took researchers nearly two years to determine those deaths were due to the Morbillivirus. “Part of the problem is the federal government has added to the testing procedures,” explained Schoelkopf, “added more results that they want, so that's slowing the process down even more.”

Stranding Center officials say so far, five dolphins from this summer have tested positive for having the Morbillivirus, “It's a déjà vu thing,” but, as far as saying it's the cause for all these deaths, it's just too soon to tell.

The Stranding Center welcomes any and all donations. They're desperately in need of a large, portable, produce-type cooler. And of course, and funds would be greatly appreciated.

For more information on how to help, click here.

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