Could harmful algal blooms be linked to recent dolphin deaths?

Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-10 01:27:33-04

Norfolk, Va. - A harmful algae bloom is living in the waters off Hampton Roads and known to make people and sea life sick.

The bloom is getting worse in our area at a time when an historic number of dolphins have washed up on our shores.

It’s known as "mahogany tide" because of its deep, brownish/red color.

Experts say it's a harmful algal bloom and it lives right here in Hampton Roads in the Lafayette, York and James Rivers. It even lives in the Chesapeake Bay.

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have been studying the blooms for years.

They say it's known to make people and fish sick. When it comes to hundreds of dolphins washing up on Virginia's beaches recently, they don't believe this is part of the problem.

"We have no evidence that the dolphin situation is connected to the harmful algal blooms and we do know that fish, in particular dolphins and fin fish, can swim away from these patches because they're very patchy bloom areas,” says professor of Marine Science, Dr. Kimberly Reece.

She also says there have been no reported fish kills of any kind from the blooms found here.

State health officials tell NewsChannel 3 that there's no evidence that these specific blooms are even toxic to people at this time.

Testing by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration leads them to believe that the dolphins are dying from what's known as the morbillivirus.


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