Does the end of the world starts with dolphins? That was my first impression when I heard the news that mortality rates among dolphins were observed to have sparked this year, 2013. Could this be a result of the climate change as depicted by Solar Cycle 24? Not likely.
According to a Huffington Post article, there were already 333 remains of bottlenose dolphins recorded washed ashore from New York to North Carolina. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found this discovery unusual. Base on the description of the persons that reported these cases, the likely cause why dolphins die in the east coast is due to cetacean morbillivirus, a marine strain of virus similar to measles.
What is this virus?
Cetacean morbillivirus is just one kind of the morbilliviruses. This virus attacks the victims lungs and brain which causes difficulties in breathing, skin lesions and brain infections. The virus can be transmitted inhalation of respiratory particles or physical contact between animals, like a mother to its calves. Porpoises, dolphins, and whales are the usual victim of cetacean morbillivirus. However, the illness is not transmittable to humans.
Did this ever happen before?
It was in 1987 that massive deaths were recorded. The death toll rose as high as 700 deaths among dolphins in the coast. Because the dolphins in the area don’t have antibody response to this virus, dolphins, when succumbed by the virus, dies.