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Tracking a Mysterious Eider Virus
by Lucas Savoy
For the past several years, biologists, veterinarians, and researchers from numerous agencies have been actively attempting to unravel the origin of a mysterious virus responsible for killing hundreds of Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) each fall in Massachusetts. This virus was discovered at Jeremy Point in Wellfleet, Massachusetts; hence, it’s now known as the Wellfleet Bay Virus (WFBV).
Although fairly similar in appearance, there are four sub-species of Common Eiders, all found in North America, each occupying very different habitats; ranging from northern Canada and the Arctic, to as far west as Alaska. The eider sub species most familiar to New Englanders is the American Common Eider (Somateria mollissima dresseri).
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