One of the most popular mammals that live underwater is the bottlenose dolphins. One, they always look cheerful and welcoming. Two, they’re the dolphins found in movies, and, three, they’re the ones that we find in ocean parks that are made to perform in front of amused audiences. Bottlenose dolphins are also the most intelligent of their kind. Indeed, these facts may be quite known, but what you might have not been informed is the fact that hundreds of them die in a year so. The recent spotting was at Mid Atlantic coasts this summer where the casualties reached to 291.
This isn’t the first time that the death of bottlenose dolphins occurred. 780 dolphins were found dead along the East Coast of United States in 1987-88. Scientists preliminarily concluded that the death was caused by a combination of health woes due to parasites, infections, and red tide toxins, dubbed as berevetoxins. Further studies showed that the dolphins’ deaths were actually due to morbilivirus, a fatal disease that affects all other animals in an area, and that the toxins made them at risk to it. On the one hand, this year’s death is not different to the death scenario in the 80’s as their death is again, caused by cetacean morbilivirus, a type of dolphin measles that primarily affect their brains and lungs. The virus then damages their immune system, which makes them susceptible to infection and death in the long run. The virus is spread through direct contact by animals, and because dolphins naturally migrate in pods, it is likely that one infected dolphin can infect the entire pod, and thus, the hundreds of deaths. Unfortunately, scientists are yet to identify a vaccine or a treatment to administer to these poor wild dolphins. As of today, researchers are only able to document and study the ways of stopping the spread of the virus of these migratory dolphins. Luckily, studies reveal that the human beings are entirely safe from the said virus, so humans are still safe to watch them play, kiss them, or even swim with them underwater. There is no doubt that bottle dolphins are a sight to behold and their charisma has made them more likeable compared to their other underwater relatives. It is sad to note that these friendly animals are not freed from the dangers of viruses and parasites underwater.
Meanwhile, we can still do a lot to help keep their natural habitat clean by not throwing our garbage into the sea, ocean, or in any bodies of water. Involvement of different aqua organizations is another way to be aware and spread awareness of the horrible reality that bottlenose dolphins are facing.