A few months after the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 began to pop up in the U.S., a piece of news came out of the Bronx Zoo in New York City: one of its Malayan tigers (Panthera tigris jacksoni), Nadia, had developed a cough. When a veterinarian tested Nadia for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, “out of an abundance of caution,” the test came back positive. According to the zoo, Nadia had likely contracted the virus from an asymptomatic caretaker, making her the first known captive tiger to get the disease. The incident raised a pivotal question: could humans transmit SARS-CoV-2 to other species? News of Nadia’s illness led Saby Mathavarajah, a researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, to investigate whether marine mammals, such as cetaceans and pinnipeds, could get infected with SARS CoV-2 through wastewater. Sea lions in the Galapagos Islands. Image by Lieutenant Elizabeth Crapo, NOAA Corps. “There are no documented cases of SARS-CoV-2 to date in marine mammals but we do know that both dolphins and beluga whales have been infected with related gamma coronaviruses in the past,” Mathavarajah told Mongabay in an email. “Since most marine mammals are social, it is also possible for spread of coronaviruses between animals through close contact. So once one animal is infected it could threaten entire populations.” In a recent paper, Mathavarajah and colleagues at Dalhousie University found that 15 marine species, including whales, dolphins, seals and sea otters, could be susceptible to SARS CoV-2 due to having…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer