Can you name this species?
When you look at a sponge, the category "animal" might not necessarily come to mind, but sponges are animals. There are over 5,000 species of sponges, and most live in the marine environment, although there are freshwater sponges.
Killer whales, or orcas, are one of the most easily-recognizable cetacean species. Here's 10 fascinating facts about them.
Hope you had a great November! Here's some new content I posted this month, in case you missed it:
It's hard to believe December is just about here. It sneaks up on me every year, it seems. If there's content you'd like to read about here on this site, send me an email at marinelife(at)aboutguide.com or comment below! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
For readers in the U.S., I hope you have safe travels this week and a wonderful Thanksgiving (and hopefully long weekend) with friends and family. Thank you for reading my blog and exploring the marine life site! If there's content you'd like to see in the coming year, please feel free to comment here or e-mail me at marinelife(at)aboutguide.com.
Cetacean morbillivirus...Now there's something to ponder on your Thanksgiving travels this week!
As you may have heard, since July 2013, a large number (889 as of November 24) of bottlenose dolphins have stranded along the eastern coastline of the U.S. from New York to Florida. This number is well over the normal numbers of stranded dolphins - the average for this time period over the last five years has been 112 animals per year.
What is causing these strandings? All of the stranded animals haven't been examined so far, but based on preliminary investigations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has tentatively labeled the cause as cetacean morbillivirus. This is a virus that is in the same family of viruses that causes measles in humans and canine distemper in dogs, coyotes, wolves and seals. The virus most commonly seems to affect the animal's lungs and brain. Affected animals may be thin, have respiratory difficulty, have skin lesions, and behave abnormally. In addition, morbillivirus weakens the immune system, leaving infected animals susceptible to other diseases and infections.
Cetaceans can contract the virus through airborne particles, or contact with infected cetaceans. As far as humans are concerned, it cannot be contracted by humans, but it is possible that a stranded animal has an additional illness that can be transmitted to people or their pets, so you should always observe a stranded animal from a distance (100 yards or more) and alert your local stranding response team if you find an animal on the beach. For a list of stranding response numbers by state, click here. There is also an app (Android, Apple) that allows you to report a stranded animal in the Southeastern U.S..
Image: Bottlenose Dolphins, courtesy NOAA