Due to the reported deaths of over three hundred wild dolphins this summer, and the continuing spread of the virus that will surely cause more deaths, the state of New Jersey is stepping up efforts to save these beloved creatures.
New Jersey has committed to providing resources that will aid infected dolphins and, hopefully, will slow the spread of the virus among the east coast populations that are at risk.
An aircraft issued by the State Environmental Protection Department will scan the New Jersey coast looking for stranded dolphins that can be picked up and taken ashore for testing. The state is also stepping up to fund the testing, which will be conducted in the Agriculture Department’s lab. Until now, the cost for testing infected dolphins in New Jersey has been shouldered by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, a non-profit organization specializing in animal rescue.
Since the outbreak of the virus in July of this year, 70 dolphins have washed up on the New Jersey shore alone.
After weeks of testing, researchers have determined that the hundreds of deaths were caused by the cetacean morbilli virus, which is similar to human measles and is spread through close contact. The last outbreak occurred in the 1980’s and killed more than seven hundred dolphins along the east coast.
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