Delaware faces unusual increase in dolphins washed ashore

13 discovered in past month

John McDevitt
June 06, 2018 - 7:37 pm

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LEWES, Del. (KYW Newsradio) — The Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute is keeping an eye on an unusual increase of bottlenose dolphin carcasses that washed up on Delaware's shores over the last few weeks.  

Sixteen bottlenose dolphin that washed ashore were found dead in Delaware this year. Thirteen of them were discovered between May and June.

The typical amount is 18 a year.

"We are just watching and noting," said Suzanne Thurman, MERR Institute executive director, "but unfortunately we have not been able to discern any common cause. The animals have been very decomposed very scavenged and they are showing up in all of the typical waterways, including the Delaware Bay along the ocean coast, and our most recent stranding was in one of the inland bays."

But she said the institute is not alarmed at this point.    

In 2013, a virus killed 1,500 bottlenose dolphins in the region. Since there is typically a 25-year cycle, Thurman doesn't think this year's deaths were caused by that virus.