An unusual slew of dolphin deaths have been reported along the Jersey Shore.
Six dolphins have washed up in the last month or so. The most recent washed up Wednesday morning on Sea Isle City’s 57th Street beach.
“Its tail was lifting up and it was still breathing,” said city public works employee Joe Dougherty.
“We turned it up on its side, up on its stomach and put towels on it and put water on it.”
Despite the efforts the mammal died soon after being picked up by technicians from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, N.J.
The folks at the stranding center have been busy dealing with all the deaths.
Although, they are common this time of year, it’s unusual to have this many in just a matter of weeks.
The six dead dolphins -- most of them emaciated -- washed up at different spots. Four were discovered in Cape May County, including the one found in Sea Isle and two more in Monmouth County.
Unlike the Bottlenose dolphins seen at the shore in the summer, these deaths have involved common dolphins and striped dolphins. Both are normally found hundreds of miles off the coast and migrate this time of year from Maine and Canada to warmer waters in the south.
“When they do come ashore, that’s an indication that something happened to the animal,” said MMSC director Bob Schoelkopf. “It’s sick, it’s been sick for some time.”
Veterinarians at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center are studying the dolphins to try to figure out exactly why they died. Marine experts say recent weather conditions may be to blame for all the strandings.
“Just the high seas, the heavy surf we’ve had, the heavy winds blowing them in,” Schoelkopf said. “A weakened animal just cannot fight those conditions where the stronger ones just keep moving south.”
If you come across a beached dolphin don’t try to push it back in the water. Doing that to an animal that’s likely dying will only will make its death more painful, according to experts.