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August 30, 2007

Dolphins in Danger

Striped dolphins in the Spanish Mediterranean are under attack from a virus similar to measles that could kill roughly 75,000 of the creatures before the disease loses steam.

Authorities confirmed the disease, Morbillivirus, was also responsible for a plague that killed hundreds of thousands of dolphins in the early 1990s and also recently affected the Canary Island right whale population.

This is definitely not the year for dolphins — perhaps you remember the reports late last year of the Yangtze River dolphin effectively becoming extinct. Human impacts, including industrial pollution, boat traffic and overfishing, were to blame. A video surfaced earlier this summer showing Brazilian fishermen killing 83 dolphins for kicks.

True, this virus may be a natural phenomenon despite its disastrous potential. Things like poaching, pollution and overfishing can be prevented and helped — and should be.