Experts investigating dolphin deaths in NJ waters
BRIGANTINE, N.J. - February 14, 2012 (WPVI) -- In less than two months, more than a hundred dolphins have been rescued from beaches throughout the Northeast.
Photos of a common dolphin in distress were taken yesterday near Manasquan, N.J. That mammal later died in shallow water.
Over the weekend two other dolphins died in New Jersey waters, including one that was found trapped between the rungs of a ladder underneath a dock in the Ocean City lagoon.
Four others have been spotted far from their normal open ocean home, including one in the Delaware River near Pennsville in Salem County.
Folks at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center want to find those four.
"We're asking people who see them to call us immediately with the location, dead or alive." said Robert Schoelkopf. "We need to get to them."
Schoelkopf directs the Brigantine-based center that deals with all sorts of strandings. In one crate lies a sickly gray seal pup found on a beach.
The recent trio of dead dolphins is concerning, in part because of a massive die-off of more than 100 dolphins that began last month off Cape Cod.
Could there be a common link?
"We do think so, since it's the same species," said Schoelkopf. "Even though it's a couple of hundred miles away, these animals can travel 30 to 50 miles a day."
Could whatever is killing the dolphins be a disease? Could other species be at risk? Hopefully post mortem exams will give a clearer picture.
Schoelkopf discounts a theory that intense naval sonar might have triggered the deaths, saying there would be telltale signs that are not evident.
"If there were some type of sonar connection you would see damage to the ear drums," he told Action News. "No one has pointed that out."
The bodies of the dead dolphins have been taken to the New Bolton Center of the University of Pennsylvania in Chester County, where post mortem exams will be performed.
new jersey, animals, jersey shore, local/state, john rawlins
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