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Third dolphin death in less than a week in Lowcountry

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BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) -

A number of dolphin deaths in the Lowcountry in the last week have some people wondering what's going on?  

 Three dolphins have been found stranded on Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and north of Fripp Island.

This latest dolphin stranding makes it the 28 th one found along South Carolina's coast this year. Scientists say it's too early to know what's causing these deaths.

This past Saturday morning, Susan Trogdon of Beaufort was kayaking along Harbour River with a friend when they spotted something floating in the marshes nearby.

"It was very shocking," she said.  

Trogdon said she's seen many dolphins along this area, but it was the first time she's seen one in this condition.

"It had a scrape about 12 inches long on its side and in one area on the fin, like something had been eating at it. It's eyes were gone," said Trogdon.  

She called DNR and took pictures for researchers with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

In one week, there have been three dolphins found stranded in Beaufort County. The first was found near Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island on March 17 .

Just three days later, a second one was found in Bluffton's May River.

"It's very concerning because you don't know what's happening to them and they're mammals, so is it something in our water?"

Since July 2013, 145 dolphins have died along the South Carolina coast. In most of those deaths, scientists found morbillivirus to be the cause of it.

"It's a different strain of disease. It is similar to canine discomfort, so we are taking extra precaution, so if there is a dolphin in need, we ask that you keep your dogs away from it," said Jessica Conway, researcher with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Conway said they do not know if this is the cause of death for these dolphins at this point. They haven't been able to locate the third dolphin because of high tide.

"We can't say for sure until we have those samples tested, there's no way to confirm just by looking at the dolphins," she added.  

If you do come across a stranded dolphin, please contact the Department of Natural Resources. Do not try to touch the dolphin, you could hurt yourself or injure it even more.

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