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VIRGINIA BEACH--Another dead dolphin washed ashore in Ocean View early Friday, adding to the growing number along the Mid-Atlantic Coast this year.

Officials said there are usually six or seven incidents in August and already this month the Stranding Response Team has recorded 47.

'Well, unfortunately I have been around long enough that I remember the 1987-88 bottlenose dolphin die-off. So, yes, I have seen numbers like this. But until now, that was way in the past and we didn't think about that too much,' said Mark Swingle with the Stranding Response Team

So far, the evidence is pointing to the morbillivirus as the cause, officials said Friday.

'Not enough evidence yet to say that is what is causing it. I mean, there have been a lot of animals as you know. So only a few animals testing is not necessarily a positive thing. But, it certainly is something that we are looking at very closely because it has a history of affecting marine mammal populations,' added Swingle.

The morbillivirus doesn't affect humans, Swingle said.

'And it's not a water-born thing, so we're not worried about the water necessarily. This is one of those things that if it is in the population and it's spreading, it spreads by contact,' Swingle said.

NOAA has labeled this an unusual mortality event. Experts with the Stranding Response Team expect it to last for at least another two months.

They want people to avoid contact with dolphins and call 385-7575 with any sightings on the beach.


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