Several recent events in Italy have totally perplexed scientists. Since the start of 2019, there have been 32 bottlenose dolphins and 2 whales found dead off the coast of Tuscany. Unfortunately, this is one of the highest numbers of dolphin deaths the county has ever seen. The most recent dolphin corpse was found at the beginning of August on San Rossore beach.
A biologist from Pisa University, Giuliana Terracciano, stated, “What we do know at the moment is that several of the dead dolphins had not eaten for days.” The cause of their death appears to be a virus, possibly morbillivirus since their abrupt stop in eating.
According to SeaWorld.org, there are various causes of dolphin deaths including parasites, viral, bacterial and fungal infections. They may also die from stomach ulcers, tumors, heart disease, and respiratory disorders. Furthermore, many dolphins die from suffocation from being trapped in fishing nets.
Experts wish that the cause of this virus was more evident. What makes it more difficult is that it was not one specific age group or gender of dolphins. There was a mix of males, females, old, and young dolphins. They are unsure of whether or not their deaths are due to human pollution. Therefore, scientists have been conducting toxicology tests to see if the dolphins swallowed plastic bottles. It is very unfortunate that this strange event continues to occur but scientists will continue to find the cause. For now, it seems to be the morbillivirus.