Old, young, large and small, bottlenose dolphins of all ages and sizes are washing up dead along the Jersey Shore.
Since July 9, 17 dead dolphins have been discovered on beaches in Ocean, Cape May, Monmouth and Atlantic Counties.
“I’m concerned because it’s a higher than average number for us,” said Bob Schoelkopf, the Founding Director of the Brigantine’s Marine Mammal Stranding Center.
Officials say at least four of the dolphins had viral pneumonia while one of them tested positive for morbillivirus. Back in 1987, 90 dolphins died from morbillivirus along the Jersey Shore. Schoelkopf says there hasn’t been so many dolphin deaths in such a short amount of time since that year.
Experts are still waiting for answers on a half dozen other dolphins found dead. They say the remaining mammals were too decomposed to test.
“The results we have had showing viral pneumonia is not indicative of a typical death of an animal," Schoelkopf said. “There’s something more involved here and we’re not sure what it might be at this point.”
The Stranding Center hopes to have more test results in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, experts say if you find a dead dolphin, don’t touch it and call the Stranding Center immediately.