The deaths of dozens of endangered dolphins that have died off the coast of Brazil in just over a month, has been blamed on an a outbreak of “cetacean mobillivirus” which can damage a dolphin’s immune system, according to scientists from the School of Oceanography at the State University in Rio de Janeiro.
Nearly 200 Guiana dolphins, also known as Sotalia or gray dolphins, have been found in the worst mass death of the dolphin this decade.
Cause of death will have to be confirmed but it is possibly as a result of a disease caused by a virus or bacteria given the appearance of pox-like marks on the skin of the dolphins. However, the cause of this outbreak is what’s leaving scientists scratching their heads. Scientists are unsure what caused the outbreak and how long it might last.
— WDC (@WHALES_org) January 8, 2018
Guiana dolphins grow to around 1.5 m in length and are usually found in small groups of only a few individuals. They are extremely sociable and perform impressive acrobatics, including spy hopping, lobtailing, flipper slapping, and porpoising. A closely-related species that lives in the Amazon and Orinoco rivers of South America is known as the tucuxi which is almost identical but smaller in size.
Two decades ago there were around 2,500 of these dolphins, now we are down to just 800 individuals. Gray dolphins are listed as data deficient, but the species should be considered endangered.