Scientists Have Figured Out What's Behind Dolphin Die-offs - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

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>>

  • 75-Year Old Woman Hurt During Purse Snatching At South Jersey Shopping Center

    75-Year Old Woman Hurt During Purse Snatching At South Jersey Shopping Center

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:02 PM EDT2014-08-23 03:02:06 GMT
    "I'm shocked because I come here all the time and I've never had an issue ever and never felt unsafe," said Christina Polizzi of Cherry Hill. She is one of many shoppers atThe Promenade shopping Center on Route 73 in Eveshamhorrified to hear that a 75 year old woman was critically hurt from a man who snatched her purse. "That's horrible, that's horrible," said Polizzi.It happened Wednesday night around 8:30. Police say the woman was walkingwhen a man came up alongside her and violently grabbe...
    "I'm shocked because I come here all the time and I've never had an issue ever and never felt unsafe," said Christina Polizzi of Cherry Hill. She is one of many shoppers atThe Promenade shopping Center on Route 73 in Eveshamhorrified to hear that a 75 year old woman was critically hurt from a man who snatched her purse. "That's horrible, that's horrible," said Polizzi.It happened Wednesday night around 8:30. Police say the woman was walkingwhen a man came up alongside her and violently grabbe...
  • Local Military Family Behind 'Goodbye Monsters' Book, Protector

    Local Military Family Behind 'Goodbye Monsters' Book, Protector

    Friday, August 22 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-08-23 02:00:16 GMT

    A South Jersey veteran and his wife responded to bedtime fears with a new book called "Goodbye Monsters," and it comes with a protector!

    A South Jersey veteran and his wife responded to bedtime fears with a new book called "Goodbye Monsters," and it comes with a protector!

  • Clerk Shot During Wilmington Liquor Store Robbery

    Clerk Shot During Wilmington Liquor Store Robbery

    Friday, August 22 2014 6:38 PM EDT2014-08-22 22:38:37 GMT
    A surveillance camera catches it all as two workers at Cutrona Liquors in Wilmington struggling to keep a gunman out of their North Market Street shop.
    A surveillance camera catches it all as two workers at Cutrona Liquors in Wilmington struggling to keep a gunman out of their North Market Street shop.
Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

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