CAPE COD, Mass., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- At least 81 dolphins have died along the Cape Cod shore since early January in a series of unexplained incidents, U.S. officials and wildlife rescuers said.
More than 100 dolphins have been found stranded along the rocky Massachusetts shoreline, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Teri Rowles told CNN. The International Fund for Animal Welfare said the dolphins are sometimes washing ashore in groups of as many as 10.
Rescuers have been transporting live dolphins to the outer Cape to be returned to the ocean.
IFAW program director A.J. Cady said the number of recent incidents is disturbing. "Cape Cod sees an average of 120 dolphin strandings per year," Cady told CNN.
Recent changes in water temperature could be a contributing factor, Wellfleet, Mass., harbormaster Michael Flanagan said.
"Usually in the winter, the harbor ices over and inhibits the animals from coming close to the shore," Flanagan said. "But now that the water is warmer, we're seeing lots more dolphins washing up than ever before."