Why have 100 dolphins washed up dead on Italian coast?

Why have 100 dolphins wash up dead on Italian coast?

Over 100 dolphins have washed up on the west coast of Italy since the beginning of the year - and scientists believed they died after being struck by a killer strain of measles.

A total of 101 dolphins - all of the same striped species - have washed up along the coast from Tuscany to Calabria, as well as the island of Sicily, suggesting that human pollutants, like oil, are not to blame, reports iol.co.za.

According to the Daily Mail, a statement from Italy's Ministry for the Environment read: "At the moment, the suspected cause of the mass cetacean deaths is measles (morbillivirus delphini) and the bacterium Photobacterium damselae.

"The deaths could be caused by food shortages which weaken the animal making them more easily exposed to diseases and parasites."

The striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) is found in temperate and tropical waters of all the world's oceans, and is found in abundance in the North and South Atlantic Oceans, including the Mediterranean and Gulf of Mexico, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

It eats fish, squid, octopus, krill, and other crustaceans. Mediterranean striped dolphins seem to prey primarily on cephalopods (50-100% of stomach contents), while northeastern Atlantic striped dolphins most often prey on fish, frequently cod.

Meanwhile, last year, a pod of 30 dolphins were saved by a group of tourists after they became stranded on a beach in Brazil.

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