According to a USA Today report - Bottlenose dolphins are dying from Virginia to New York, with at least 124 strandings reported since July, federal wildlife officials reported Thursday. That's a death rate seven times higher than normal for the East Coast in July.

The National Marine Fisheries Service declared a federal "unusual mortality event," and said it is increasing federal investigation and funding for analyses of the dolphin deaths. National Marine Fisheries scientist Teri Rowles said at least one of the stranded dolphins appeared to have suffered from a measles-like "morbillivirus."

Morbillivirus infections have been associated with previous large die-offs of dolphins and seals, but she cautioned that investigators were still evaluating the cause of this year's strandings. Such outbreaks happen almost yearly along coastal regions; 60 have been declared since 1991. But the acceleration of dolphin deaths in the past week, 35, merited increased concern in this case, marine scientists said.

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