Dolphin deaths continue at the Jersey Shore, with three more washing ashore Friday, according to an Asbury Park Press report.
The marine mammals were found in Seaside Heights, Longport, and Stone Harbor, and staffers from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) in Brigantine responded to each location, the report states.
MMSC Director Robert Schoelkopf recently spoke with Jersey Shore Hurricane News and NewsWorks about why he thinks the deaths are occurring, offering a stern warning to not enter the ocean to help any dolphins.
In Ocean City last week, a shark took a bite out of a dying dolphin struggling in knee-deep water, Schoelkopf said.
“We were lucky because just before the dolphin appeared, we had a severe lighting storm and lifeguards blew their whistles to get people out of the water,” he said. “Someone in the crowd wading in the water could have been bitten.”
Understanding the danger, responders do not enter the water to recover sea life. Instead, they wait for the animal to wash ashore, Schoelkopf said.
Some of the dolphins have tested positive for morbillivirus, a naturally occurring virus in dolphin populations, according to Schoelkopf.
“Dolphins swim close together in pods. Diseases spread between animals when they surface to breathe,” Schoelkopf said in a July 2013 N.J. Department of Environmental Protection release. “There is no evidence that the deaths we are seeing this summer are in any way related to water quality.”