Scientists Have Figured Out What's Behind Dolphin Die-offs - FOX 35 News Orlando

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>>

  • How Young Is Too Young To Fly Alone?

    How Young Is Too Young To Fly Alone?

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:43 AM EDT2014-09-01 14:43:52 GMT

    Would you let your child fly alone? If that answer is "yes," big changes may be on the way for American Airlines. See why you could be paying big bucks for your child's next trip.

    Would you let your child fly alone? If that answer is "yes," big changes may be on the way for American Airlines. See why you could be paying big bucks for your child's next trip.

  • Roxborough Fire Destroys Family-Owned Dry-Cleaning Business

    Roxborough Fire Destroys Family-Owned Dry-Cleaning Business

    Monday, September 1 2014 8:39 AM EDT2014-09-01 12:39:24 GMT

    A fire destroys a family-owned business early Monday morning in the Roxborough section of the city.

    A fire destroys a family-owned business early Monday morning in the Roxborough section of the city.

  • Revel Hotel Casino Begins 2-Day Shutdown

    Revel Hotel Casino Begins 2-Day Shutdown

    Monday, September 1 2014 8:15 AM EDT2014-09-01 12:15:23 GMT

    It is the beginning of the end for Atlantic City's Revel Hotel and Casino. The hotel shuts down Monday morning, and early Tuesday the casino will follow.

    It is the beginning of the end for Atlantic City's Revel Hotel and Casino. The hotel shuts down Monday morning, and early Tuesday the casino will follow.


Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

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