• Six dolphins were found dead in Alabama's Dauphin Island last week
  • Researchers said the incident was likely caused by Hurricane Sally
  • The dolphin deaths in Alabama was the most recent one in a string of marine mammal deaths

Six dolphins were recently found dead in a "historic" mass stranding event in Alabama and experts said it might be linked to the September onslaught of Hurricane Sally.

On Sept. 25, six Atlantic spotted dolphins were found dead on Dauphin Island. All the affected dolphins were females and it was believed they were stranded alive for several days before the discovery as their stomachs were nearly empty.

"The animals likely came into the Mississippi Sound during Hurricane Sally, after becoming disoriented in the Gulf," said Mackenzie Russell, stranding coordinator at Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network (ALMMSN), in a news release from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL). "We often see an increase in offshore species of dolphins and whales stranding after large storm events. Unfortunately, these dolphins stranded in a remote marsh location that delayed their discovery and reporting to the stranding network."

Calling the event "historic," the center said this was the "first mass stranding of its kind" in the state of Alabama. The species rarely get stranded on the coast of Alabama and the last stranding was reported in 2018.

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They also urged people to not push a stranded animal back to the water and instead call 1-877-WHALE-HELP (942-5343) immediately.

Unfortunately, this was only the latest in a recent string of dolphin and whale deaths. In August, several whales and dolphins were found dead on the coast of Mauritius, close to the massive oil spill caused by a Japanese-owned ship. It was not clear whether the deaths were related to the oil spill.

In September, about 470 whales were also stranded in southern Australia, many of which died. It was believed the pod got stranded after feeding close to the shore or while following whales that strayed from the group.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), marine animals can get stranded for several reasons, including injuries from ships, parasites, bacterial infections, starvation or unusual weather, which is believed to be the case in Alabama.

But in many cases, the actual cause of a stranding remained unknown.

The causes of whale mass strandings remain unknown, despite scientists studying the phenomenon for decades
The causes of whale mass strandings remain unknown, despite scientists studying the phenomenon for decades AFP / Mell CHUN