Dead dolphins wash ashore in Grand Strand

Source: Sara Bunting
Source: Sara Bunting

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Just a few days after a dead dolphin washed ashore in the Myrtle Beach area, three more dolphins were found in the Grand Strand.

The first dead dolphin washed ashore on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at the Pirate Land Campground in Myrtle Beach. It was first spotted shortly before 8 a.m. by a woman staying at the campground, confirmed a WMBF News photographer at the scene.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Charleston was called, who then called the Marine Biology program at Coastal Carolina University. A grad student of the Marine Biology program at CCU, Dani Silva, was sent there by the university after being contacted by NOAA.

"A disease has killed a lot of dolphins right now. It's horrible if this gets spread through the population, there's no telling what could happen," she said.

The dolphin will be brought to Charleston for a necropsy. The cause of the dolphin's death has not been determined, but a virus that has affected hundreds of dolphins along the East Coast has turned up off South Carolina.

The morbillivirus has been reported as far north as New York. Most of the deaths have occurred off Virginia.

Capt. Mark Collins with Blue Wave Adventures Dolphin Watch said, "It's so contagious, and dolphins are so social and in close contact with one another - it's easily spread. It's scary all the way around. On a business side it's concerning if it gets in the population, but my first concern is just for these animals."

On Sunday, Oct. 27, three more dolphins washed ashore: one in Litchfield, one in Surfside and another in Myrtle Beach near 51st Avenue North.

The one found in Myrtle Beach was alive when it washed ashore.

Wayne McPhee with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Charleston said all three dolphins will have necropsies to determine if they had morbillivirus or any other ailments.

Copyright 2013 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press Contributed to this report.