This Year’s High Number Of Seal Fatalities Found To Be Distemper
This past sumer, Maine, as well as the rest of New England, experience an extremely high rate of seal mortality. And as dozens of seals began washing up on our beaches, much speculation was centered around Avian Bird Flu. Since then, tests revealed that not to be the case, and that distemper was the actual culprit for almost 700 seals perishing up and down the New England coast.
There is no danger to humans, but you should definitely keep your pets away from any dead seals you may come across, as distemper could easily be transmitted to them. According to the Portland Press Herald, the phocine distemper virus is:
...similar to canine distemper and measles. It affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of mammals, suppressing immune systems and leaving the animals vulnerable to other infections or disease.
But scientists also believe the amount of chemical pollution in our coastal waterways may also be to blame for negative changes in the immune systems of seals. 500 seals were found in New England just in August alone, and folks are hoping that the trend can be reversed over time.
But also, it seems that the major problem is staying here in New England. It's been reported that the seal population off New Brunswick, all the way down to New York seems to be just fine, with just the northeastern portion of the New England coast suffering the worst effects.
Only time will tell to see if it all settles out and seal populations can stay ahead of this mortality curve. We love our seals up here in Maine, and don't want to see any more harm come to them. So cross your fingers, and wish for cleaner waters, and healthier seals!