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High numbers of humpback whales dying off Atlantic coast

This April 24, 2017 photo provided by MERR Institute, Inc. shows a dead whale at Port Mahon, Del. Federal officials said humpback whales have been dying in unusually large numbers along the Atlantic Coast. (Suzanne Thurman/MERR Institute, Inc. via AP)

PORT MAHON, Del. (AP) — Federal officials say humpback whales have been dying in unusually large numbers along the Atlantic Coast.

The News Journal reports (http://delonline.us/2ow4S5j) that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries declared it an “unusual mortality event,” which is called when higher-than-normal numbers of marine mammals die for unknown reasons. An agency spokeswoman says details will be provided Thursday.

Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute Executive Director Suzanne Thurman says a decomposing whale washed into shallow water in the Delaware Bay recently, but weather is hampering efforts to study it. Thurman says it apparently was a juvenile humpback. If confirmed, it would be the fourth stranded in Delaware waters in a year, an unusually high number.

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

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Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., http://www.delawareonline.com

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