Experts still don't know if the recent deaths of three dolphins found in waters off South Jersey are related.
Officials with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine were notified Sunday afternoon about a common dolphin that was trapped between the rungs of a ladder underneath a dock in the Ocean City lagoon.
That same dolphin was seen swimming around the back-bay lagoon for a few days before it died.
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Unlike bottlenose dolphins typically seen along the Jersey shore in the summer, common dolphins are normally found in large groups in deeper ocean water, 20 to 30 miles off the coast.
Center Director Bob Schoelkopf tells the Press of Atlantic City that it appears the dolphin got caught in the ladder and panicked. It was found around 4 p.m., roughly the same time another common dolphin was found dead on the beach in the Villas section of Lower Township, Cape May County.
Another common dolphin died Monday, shortly after it was found stranded but alive in the Barnegat Bay in Stafford Township, Ocean County.
That dolphin was set to undergo a necropsy Tuesday.
What caused the dolphins' deaths in N.J. and the recent stranding of about 160 dolphins around Cape Cod remained a mystery Monday night.
“It’s something that we are going to keep a very, very close eye on in terms if we see increased numbers of animals in New Jersey and other areas,” said NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Regional Stranding Coordinator Mendy Garron.
Experts were also keeping an eye on the water as at least three more dolphins were spotted seen swimming towards the Delaware Bay from the Cape May canal Monday morning.
Anyone who sees a stranded dolphin or one swimming close to shore should contact the Stranding Center at 609-266-0538.
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