3 dead dolphins washed ashore in SC test positive for morbillivirus

A dolphin that washed ashore in Myrtle Beach late in October. Source: Sara Bunting
A dolphin that washed ashore in Myrtle Beach late in October. Source: Sara Bunting

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Three of the dolphins that washed up dead along the South Carolina coast have tested positive for the morbillivirus, confirmed an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Since October 17, 27 dolphins have washed up dead along the coast: five in Horry County, seven in Georgetown County, eight in Charleston County, and seven in Beaufort County, said Wayne McFee with the NOAA in Charleston. Two of the dolphins washed up on St. Helena Island and Hilton Head Island on Wednesday.

McFee said that they have confirmed three of the 27 dolphins had the morbillivirus, but they are still waiting on results for the other 24.

Just last week, over 20 dolphins washed ashore in North Carolina, and he expects the South Carolina coast will see more as well.

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

"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," said Dani Silva, a grad student of the Marine Biology program at CCU.

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.

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