Many humpback whales dying off Atlantic coast

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

The News Journal reports 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 said details will be provided Thursday.

Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute Executive Director Suzanne Thurman said a decomposing whale washed into shallow water in the Delaware Bay recently, but the weather is hampering efforts to study it. Thurman said 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.