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

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.

  • Chris O'Connell ReportsMore>>

  • Large Snake Has New Jersey Community On Edge

    Large Snake Has New Jersey Community On Edge

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:22 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:22:44 GMT
    A suspected python has a Cape May County neighborhood on edge tonight. Wildlife officials say a python is slithering the streets and its nearly 12-feet long.
    A suspected python has a Cape May County neighborhood on edge tonight. Wildlife officials say a python is slithering the streets and its nearly 12-feet long.

  • Two Suspects Charged In Carjacking Crash That Killed Three Children

    Two Suspects Charged In Carjacking Crash That Killed Three Children

    From Left to Right: Cornelius Crawford, 22, and Jonathan Rosa,19.From Left to Right: Cornelius Crawford, 22, and Jonathan Rosa,19.
    Philadelphia Police say they charged two men in connection with the carjacking that killed three children and injured several others in the city’s Tioga section.
    Philadelphia Police say they charged two men in connection with the carjacking that killed three children and injured several others in the city’s Tioga section.


  • Community Holds Vigil For Carjacking Crash Victims

    Community Holds Vigil For Carjacking Crash Victims

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:41 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:41:19 GMT
    A vigil was held on Tuesday to honor the three children killed in a carjacking crash in the city's Tioga section on Friday.

    A vigil was held on Tuesday to honor the three children killed in a carjacking crash in the city's Tioga section on Friday.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Trench collapse traps workers

    Trench collapse traps workers

    Thursday, July 31 2014 2:56 PM EDT2014-07-31 18:56:22 GMT
    Two construction workers were rescued from a collapsed trench outside a home in Rye, N.Y. on Thursday.  Firefighters from across Westchester County responded to the scene at 15 Bradford Ave. at about noon.
    Two construction workers were rescued from a collapsed trench outside a home in Rye, N.Y. on Thursday.  Firefighters from across Westchester County responded to the scene at 15 Bradford Ave. at about noon.
  • 5 annoying things about the New York City subway

    5 annoying things about the New York City subway

    Thursday, July 31 2014 2:55 PM EDT2014-07-31 18:55:21 GMT
    Subway problems are annoying, but it’s just a part of living in New York City. Public transportation isn’t glamorous. It’s a pain. It’s a convenience that can cause an inconvenience. Here is a list of five annoying things about the subway system.
    Subway problems are annoying, but it’s just a part of living in New York City. Public transportation isn’t glamorous. It’s a pain. It’s a convenience that can cause an inconvenience. Here is a list of five annoying things about the subway system.
  • Woman plunges to death over cliff in Catskills

    Woman plunges to death over cliff in Catskills

    Thursday, July 31 2014 2:42 PM EDT2014-07-31 18:42:28 GMT
    Authorities say a 23-year-old woman trying to take a picture by the edge of a cliff in the Catskill Mountains died after falling more than 150 feet.
    Authorities say a 23-year-old woman trying to take a picture by the edge of a cliff in the Catskill Mountains died after falling more than 150 feet.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices