RICHMOND (AP) -- Dolphin deaths off Virginia's coast are declining.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the number of dolphin deaths has fallen from 172 in August to 31 in October. From July to October, 331 dolphins died.

The average for the period is 23.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationhas said a virus appears to be killing the bottlenose dolphins.

'The virus affects various organ systems primarily their lungs. But as it progresses it also affects their central nervous system and other systems as well. So it's pretty nasty,' said Susan Barco with Virginia Aqurium's Stranding Response Team.

Mendy Garron is the marine mammal stranding coordinator for NOAA's Maine-to-Virginia region. She says there could be several causes for the decline in deaths.

Garron says the virus could have run through most of the dolphin population or dolphins may be starting to migrate out of the area.

At 2:00 p.m. Sunday, November 17, the Virginia Aquarium in Va. Beach will present 'Dolphin Die-off: Unraveling the Mystery.' Susan Barco, the Stranding Response coordinator, will talk about the deaths, the intense effort to find out why these mammals are dying and what scientists can learn for the future. For more information on the program, click here.


Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch,

AP-WF-11-12-13 1534GMT

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