NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Another deceased dolphin was found in the Ocean View area, making it the third in a matter of days.
The bottlenose dolphin was found near Beaumont Avenue and appears to be in a decomposed state.
This is the third dead dolphin to wash up on an Ocean View beach in about a week and the fourth in the last three weeks.
Earlier this month, 10 On Your Side asked the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center if there could be a connection between the dolphin deaths, and they said no. Now, the aquarium's biologists are a little more concerned.
"We are a little bit concerned about it," said Mark Swingle with the Virginia Aquarium. "It's definitely at a much higher level than we're used to seeing at this time of year."
Swingle said there are a number of reasons that dolphins die -- disease, predation, or just being at the mercy of fishermen's nets or boats. And even though is is prime dolphin season, the number of bottlenose dolphin deaths along the Chesapeake Bay is unusually high for this time of year.
"We have, as of this morning, about 82 dolphin strandings for the year, and typically we average in a whole year about 64 dolphin strandings. So, it's definitely elevated," Swingle said.
An aquarium press release said 44 of the 82 dolphin strandings this year happened in July -- the average for July is seven. The aquarium's Stranding Response Team is working with the NOAA Fisheries to investigate the causes of death, but it will take time.
"We know how to investigate dolphin strandings, we know how to look into whether or not the animal is diseased or sick," Swingle said. "And things like that, the challenge is, it does take a little bit of time for those kind of tests to be run."
Most of the recent dolphin strandings are exclusively male, according to the aquarium release.
The aquarium is receiving help from other members of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and so some of the dolphins from Hampton Roads will be transported to North Carolina for examination.
If you see a stranded animal on the beach, do not touch it. Instead, call the stranding hotline anytime of day or night: (757) 385-7575.
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