Scientists investigate large number of humpback whale deaths

A dead whale believed to be a humpback remains stranded at Port Mahon east of Dover Delaware

A dead whale believed to be a humpback remains stranded at Port Mahon east of Dover Delaware

This is higher than the 16-year average for the region from 2000 to 2015, which is 14 whales per year.

Four have stranded off Virginia and there was a stranding last fall off Long Island.

Humpback whales have been dying at an alarming rate along the Eastern Seaboard since previous year.

Costidis said the stranding program's main mission at whale-stranding events is to determine a cause of death that might provide actionable information to better manage the species.

The declaration also comes just one day after a whale was found ashore near Chadwick Beach in Ocean County.

"It's common for whales to be up in the Delaware Bay and feeding", Thurman said.

"This begins the process of an investigation. that could take months to years to complete", NOAA stranding coordinator Mendy Garron said in a conference call with journalists Thursday.

Two of those dead whales were found in Maryland waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries department.

A total of 41 humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have died in the waters off ME to North Carolina, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Some regular visitors to Cape Ann are being scrutinized for an unusually large number of deaths among their population.

Out of the 41 dead humpbacks, scientists have conducted necropsies on 20 of them.

Massive numbers of humpback whales are dying along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean right now, and marine biologists can't figure out exactly why it's happening.

On Thursday, NOAA announced that its investigators so far have failed to pinpoint the root cause.

NOAA website names several of the greatest known threats to humpback whales: the entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes, whale watch harassment, habitat impacts, and harvest. They have no signs of infectious disease or abnormal level of biotoxins - a poisonous substance produced by a living organism, such as algae, that could cause death in a marine mammal.

The last unusual mortality event was declared in 2006. Before that, two other UMEs were declared in 2005 and 2003.

Deborah Fauquier, a veterinary medical officer for NOAA's Office of Protected Resources, said that the injuries caused by the ship strikes were the cause of death in each of those ten cases.

Humpback whales had been considered "endangered" under the federal Endangered Species Conservation Act and then the Endangered Species Act since 1970, but were delisted last September.

The investigation regarding whale deaths is still ongoing.

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