Experts report spike in harp seal strandings on East Coast

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Experts are trying to pinpoint the cause of a sharp increase in harp seal strandings along the East Coast.

Marine Mammals of Maine reports that it has responded to 63 reports of harp seal strandings so far this year, compared to six last year. Executive Director Lynda Doughty said about a third of those seals were distressed or unhealthy.

The Portland Press Herald reports that biologists have not found evidence that the harp seals are suffering from the distemper virus that killed hundreds of harbor seals last year in New England.

Officials say the strandings are happening as far south as Virginia. People who encounter the seals are encouraged to give them space.

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