Dead bottlenose dolphins are continuing to wash up along beaches along Florida’s east coast.
(SOURCE) Since Sunday, officials say the Georgia Aquarium’s Conservation Field Station has picked up three dead dolphins along Flagler County beaches.
Capt. Tammy Marris, of Volusia Beach Safety and Ocean Rescue says a 3-foot dolphin was found in Wilbur-by-the-Sea Monday.
Last month, at least seven dolphins were recovered on Volusia County beaches and another four on beaches in nearby Flagler County.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say morbillivirus is likely causing the deaths, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. A team of researchers is investigating.
The measles-like virus affects the marine mammals’ lungs and brain, causing skin infections, pneumonia and brain disorders, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The dolphins can infect one another when they come up for air and breathe together.
The average number of strandings between New York and Florida from July 1 to December 1 is 113. This year 936 strandings have been reported.
Since January, more than 1,200 dolphins have stranded in that area.
Experts say it is impossible to vaccinate the animals for morbillivirus, according to ClickOrlando, and they expect to find more dead dolphins in the coming months.
But there was also some good news this week for marine creatures that have found themselves stranded on Florida shores.
Pods of 35 pilot whales slowly swam Thursday into deeper water off Florida’s southwest coast, raising optimism that the strandings of whales on Everglades National Park beaches may soon end on a positive note.
NOAA fisheries official Blair Mase said this afternoon that the three whale pods were nine miles north of their original location and continuing to move offshore.
They were in 18 feet of water about six miles offshore, still several miles from the 900-to-1,000 foot depths they usually call home, Mase said.
‘They are in deeper water, and they are getting closer to their normal home range,’ Mase said. ‘Even though we are hopeful, this situation could go either way. There is a chance they could come back inshore again.’
Heartbreaking: Dead pilot whales lie on the beach in the Florida Everglades
Mase said the total of dead whales has reached 11, with five still unaccounted for. She said wildlife workers were surprised Thursday morning to discover that most of the live whales had moved out of the shallows on their own sometime during the night.
By early evening Thursday, most crews had left the scene, but a Coast Guard cutter was to remain stationed with the whales overnight Thursday.
About 15 vessels carrying about 35 personnel were involved in the effort to track the whales, which were first spotted Tuesday in extremely shallow water in the Everglades park south of Naples.
Wildlife workers had planned to try using noises such as banging on pipes and revving boat engines to herd the whales out to the open ocean. But that turned out to be unnecessary, and the workers simply used positioning of the boats to prevent any of the whales from turning away from the open sea, Mase said.
Teams from NOAA, the National Park Service, the Coast Guard and state wildlife agencies were working to prevent any more whales from stranding. The animals had not been cooperating Wednesday, when most were in about 3 feet of water.