August 23 - 1923: 27 degrees today on Cape Cod

1987: Hundreds of dolphins die
Common bacteria killed hundreds of dolphins in 1987.

1987: Deaths of dolphins along Eastern shore linked to bacteria

On this day in 1987, a common bacteria normally found in coastal waters have recently become lethal to the bottle-nosed  dolphins that swim and feed along the shore from Virginia to New Jersey, a marine pathologist said today. However, Dr. Frank R. Geraci, the leader of a team of scientists investigating the deaths of hundreds of dolphins since July 1, added that the scientists did not know what was weakening the dolphins and making them susceptible to bacteria they usually ''live in harmony with."

Dr. Geraci said the search for what weakens the dolphins, possibly a virus, a biological toxin, man-made pollution or an immunological disorder, would continue. "We'll be in this area as long as required to unravel the mystery,'' he said, adding that he expected to have more to say in another week or two when the results of viral studies at a number of laboratories were completed.

The bacteria blamed for the deaths include streptococci and a large number of Vibrio bacteria that the animals usually carry in their systems and that are found in the ocean. These bacteria normally do not cause the high rate of mortality among dolphins noted this summer. Each year, about a dozen dolphins are found washed ashore on beaches between New Jersey and Virginia. This year the toll is 203, and scientists believe hundreds more have died offshore.

The bacterial infection, called septicemia, has attacked the vascular systems of dolphins coming ashore in Virginia, Dr. Geraci said. This has caused cerebral hemorrhaging and a leaking of blood from veins into the chest and abdominal cavities. The loss of blood to the skin is responsible for the phenomenon that puzzled the scientists for a time, the sloughing off of the skin, Dr. Geraci said. ''It came off like Saran Wrap,'' he said.

The disease also caused ''profound changes'' in the dolphins' internal organs, he said. Dr. Geraci likened the large number of dolphin deaths this year to an outbreak of an influenza-type virus that killed a large number of harbor seals in Boston and the Cape Cod area in 1979 and 1980.

1923: It was only 27° with a light frost a century ago today in the Cape's cranberry bogs

On this day in 1923, it was colder than on any August day in memory. The Cape Cod Cranberry Company reported that the temperature the previous night was 27 degrees.  The story in the newspapers the next day are below:

Yesterday was the coldest August 23 on record in many parts of the country. The lowest temperature recorded here was 53, the same as Wednesday's minimum. Thermometers at Poughkeepsie registered as low as 36 degrees yesterday morning and a light frost was seen, which observers said was the first August frost in eighteen years...

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