Virginia Beach, Va. (WTKR) – The number of dead dolphins that have washed up on beaches in Virginia has hit 100 for the year.
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center reports that 13 more dolphins have washed up dead since August 1st, pushing the year’s total to 100.
A typical year sees 64 in Virginia.
Several of the dolphins have been found badly decomposed, which makes it more difficult to understand what’s causing the deaths.
Joan Barns, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center says two scientists from the Smithsonian as well as a staff member from the International Fund for Animal Welfare are in Virginia helping the local teams investigate the dolphin deaths.
Matt Huelsenbeck, a marine scientist with Oceana in Washington, D.C. says there have likely been many more deaths than just those that have washed up on shore and that those bodies are either still floating or have been eaten by predators.
“We only find such a small percentage of the marine mammals that wash up dead and such a few number of them are actually in good enough condition to figure out what happened to them,” Huelsenbeck explained.
The Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team is reminding folks who find a dolphin on the beach to not touch it, but instead call their 24-hour response hotline at 757-385-7575.\