Over 200 dead dolphins have washed up on the East Coast of the US. A similar spike of dolphin deaths occurred in 1987 when more than 700 dolphins died and a bacterial infection was identified as the main culprit. This time, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOA) 91 dead dolphins have washed up in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia in July alone. Last year, those same states had a combined death toll of nine. In 2011, the total was 16. The number of animals that die at sea is believed to be far larger than the number that wash up on beaches.

The dieoff is similar to one that took place between June of 1987 and June of 1988 when 700 of the animals died. The deaths are being caused by a strain of measles virus that isn’t transmissible to humans. It’s called morbillivirus and is a close relative of measles. It is believed that rising environmental stress is making dolphins and many other sea creatures more vulnerable than ever to diseases that normally would not have spread so rapidly to so many of them.

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