It’s been almost a year since 150 young harbor seals died unexpectedly and washed up beaches in New Hampshire, southern Maine and northern Massachusetts. The New England Aquarium has taken this sad anniversary as an opportunity to share information with Seacoast communities about the cause of the deaths, ongoing monitoring efforts and to notify towns it will now be their responsibility to dispose of at least some of the carcasses.
“We do not remove or collect all carcasses from the beach, only those which would provide important information to better understand the health state of the individual or population,” New England Aquarium Rescue and Rehabilitation Department Manager Connie Merigo wrote in an Aug. 22 letter to North Hampton Select Board Chairman Jim Maggiore.
Investigations conducted by NOAA (the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) concluded that the deaths of five seals found on New Hampshire beaches last year were caused by a new strain of influenza virus – H3N8. NOAA’s Web site, however, indicated that no cases of humans coming down with the H3N8 virus have been reported, but mutation is always possible and so health agencies studying the new strain closely.
News updated fromAlarming Seal Die-off Prompts Federal Response