Dolphins still coming ashore along coast

Stranded dolphin in New Jersey. (Marine Mammal Stranding Center photo)

Bottlenose dolphins, which have stranded themselves along the Mid-Atlantic shoreline in record numbers since July, are starting to migrate south.

And so are the strandings.

"The strandings have increased in North Carolina since August, and the event is spreading south," said a spokeswoman for NOAA Fisheries.

You can find the latest data, which is updated regularly, and other information at this site:

It shows that 507 dolphins have stranded sice July 1. Ir is more than nine times the historical average. Although the bulk of them have been in Virginia, 89 have stranded in New Jersey.

Officials have officially declared the strandings an "unusual mortality event," which prompts federal oversight of the investigation and a loosing of some federal dollars.

So far, they have identified the most likely culprit for the dolphin deaths as morbillivirus, a virus related to measles in humans and distemper in dogs.  The virus was responsible for another massive die-off of dolphins along the coast in 1987-88.