MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Marine mammal rescue experts have seen a sudden and alarming uptick in the number of dolphins washing up on Southern California beaches in recent days.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center said its experts have responded to at least six beachings in Orange County this month, which it calls a "drastic and unexpected increase."
In addition, another dolphin was also found this weekend washed up on Manhattan Beach.
Last year at this time they had only responded to one beached dolphin.
The most recent influx started Feb. 4, when three dolphins were found beached. One male was deceased on Huntington Beach and two other males were found on Laguna Beach alive, but had to be euthanized for humane reasons after they were examined by veterinarians.
On Feb. 10, a dead female Bottlenose dolphin who was pregnant was found washed ashore on Corona del Mar.
Another deceased pregnant female Common dolphin was found on the same beach five days later.
Then on Feb. 18, a male was found stranded in Corona del Mar.
Two other beachings were reported, but one washed back out to the ocean and another was in an unsafe location for rescue teams to respond.
And on Manhattan Beach over the weekend, another dolphin was found stranded on the sand. In that case, lifeguards joined team members from Marine Animal Rescue to safely remove the dolphin and take it to an animal rescue facility.
Experts say it's important for beachgoers to keep their distance when spotting a sick or injured animal on the beach. The animals can carry diseases that may be transmitted to humans.
Necropsies were performed on the deceased dolphins and experts are still trying to determine what is causing all the beachings.
One theory is an increase in harmful algae blooms along the SoCal coast. The blooms can produce domoic acid, which is toxic for the marine mammals. The heavy rains may also be washing harmful toxins from land out to the oceans.
Experts see alarming uptick in beached dolphins on SoCal shoreline