HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A marine biologist says a bottlenose dolphin has died after washing up on Hilton Head Island.
The dolphin was alive when it washed up on the beach Monday morning, The Island Packet of Hilton Head (http://bit.ly/1g5X1QE) reported.
Wayne McFee with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the animal is the 26th dolphin stranded on the South Carolina coast this year. There were 112 stranded dolphins in South Carolina last year.
McFee says the dolphin died before marine biologist could get to the scene.
The dolphin's body was to be examined Tuesday in Charleston to determine the cause of death.
McFee says a virus has been responsible for most of the dolphin deaths along the East Coast.
McFee said people tried to push the dolphin found Monday back into the ocean. That doesn't help the animal and could result in injury to people if the dolphin resists, he said.
South Carolina Natural Resources Lt. Michael Paul Thomas said people should not handle beached dolphins because of the possibility of transmitting diseases., The virus cannot be transmitted to humans, but sick dolphins may have other diseases or bacteria that can be transmitted to people.
McFee said people who find dolphins on the beach should call the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 800-922-5431.
Information from: The Island Packet, http://www.islandpacket.com