By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor
On the morning of Saturday, December 10 local volunteers from the Marine Mammal Stranding group responded to a call to Sullivan’s Island town hall regarding a dolphin stranding.
“We responded to a stranding at 907 Middle St. on Sullivan’s Island this morning,” said volunteer Barbara Bergwerf. “This was the 99th stranding in SC this year. NOAA responded and took the animal back to Ft. Johnson for a necropsy.”
According to reports from the scene, the dolphin was a juvenile male bottlenose that had been floating for some time. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration technician Jessica Conway responded and loaded it in her truck with the help of Marine Mammal Stranding volunteers, Mary Pringle, Bev Ballow and Bergwerf. It was taken back to the Hollings Marine Lab at Fort Johnson on James Island.
NOAA is still receiving as many as two calls a day regarding dead dolphins in the state, some of which have been found to have had the disease known as morbillivirus, related to measles in people and canine distemper in canines, said Pringle. Shortly after this one was reported, another call was received about a deceased dolphin on Daufuskie Island, bringing the count to 99 for South Carolina in 2013.
The deaths join hundreds in the region to contribute to the worst year on record for the entire East Coast, along which nearly 1,000 dolphins have been found dead, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.