Mass dolphin beaching at Cape Cod
New York - At least 85 dolphins have beached themselves in a shallow inlet of a US nature reserve at Cape Cod, officials said on Tuesday, adding that the cause of the mass stranding remained a mystery.
A spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare said the huge number of beached mammals over the last two weeks, with most of them dying, was close to the amount usually recorded in the course of a year.
"We had a total of 85 confirmed stranding since January 12 and that number might be as high 101," AJ Cady said. "There are still about 16 dolphins reported in difficult locations we haven't been able to confirm."
"Of that number 35 were still alive. Fifty of them were dead by the time we reached them," Cady said.
The stranding took place in the area of Wellfleet and Eastham, which is notorious for sandbanks and twisting channels, just south of the famous hook of Cape Cod on the Atlantic coast of Massachusetts.
The area is the location of coastal and marine nature preserves and is famous for its population of endangered North Atlantic right whales and other sea life.
Cady said that the large number was "very unusual. In an average year we might handle a total of 120 dolphins over the course of the entire year and now we are almost at that number in a little over a week".
Cady said there were different theories why dolphins - like their cousins the whales - sometimes beach themselves in large numbers.
"One [theory] is that they just get lost. We're wondering if they were following food, a school of fish, and got trapped," he said.
"They are very sociable animals. They stay together as a group if one gets in trouble, you tend to see the whole family group get stranded at the same time because they try to stay together."