VIRGINIA BEACH, V.A. -- Three dolphins were found dead on beaches in Norfolk and Va. Beach Thursday morning, bringing the number to six in a 24-hour period.
The Virginia Aquarium's Standing Team recovered the carcass of a young dolphin on the beach off Cape View Avenue in Ocean View. Members also removed the remains of two dolphins at East Beach in Va. Beach, along with a dead sea turtle.
More than 100 dolphin corpses have washed ashore in Virginia since July, mostly on the beaches of Hampton Roads, and scientists are trying to determine why the animals are dying.
The Virginia Aquarium team is part of a national effort to determine what is causing the alarming number of deaths. Earlier this month, NOAA Fisheries declared an “Unusual Mortality Event”, as hundreds of dolphins have been found dead along the East Coast, mostly in Virginia.
NOAA said strandings in the Mid-Atlantic region from early July 2013 in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia were more than seven times the historical average for that month
Three dolphins died and washed ashore during the last week of July and officials with the Virginia
Aquarium Stranding Response Team said most appear to be that of males.
Officials also told 13News Now that the team normally picks up about 100 mammals each year.
An Unusual Mortality Event was declared in the Indian River Lagoon system along the east coast of Florida. NOAA Fisheries officials noted strandings there in July were almost three times the historical average.
NOAA says dolphins of all ages have been affected. Necropsies haven't revealed a unifying pattern, although they say an infectious pathogen is considered a likely cause.