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Federal data shows uptick in beached whales on Outer Banks

January 23, 2017

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (AP) — Federal data shows that more whales have been washing ashore in the Outer Banks in recent years.

The Virginian-Pilot (http://bit.ly/2k5jrXA ) reports that 249 whales were beached on the Outer Banks in the past two decades.

The same National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration database shows an average of 13 whales were stranded ashore from 2006 through 2015. That compares to the years 1996 through 2004, with about six whales washed ashore per year.

In 2005 the number was 48, but that included an unusual occurrence when 33 smaller pilot whales swam ashore during a fierce storm.

Karen Clark is director of the Outer Banks Center for Wildlilfe Education. She says that the whale strandings are a symbol of the health of the ocean, but the phenomenon isn’t entirely understood.