After an unusually high number of seals were found washed up on shore in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, researchers are starting to get some answers.

An extremely high number of seals were found washed up dead on shore or stranded out at sea in July and August, so researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association are trying to figure out why.

Over 300 seals were found dead between Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts over the last two months, when typically the average number in that time frame is closer to 40 per year.

So what is going on?

The first round of testing from NOAA shows that several of these seals have avian flu or distemper and some even had both.

Both of these diseases are fatal in seals, though NOAA says there are many more samples to be tested before they can say one way or another if the illnesses are the cause of the high number of seal deaths this season.

NOAA is also advising beachgoers and boaters to keep their eyes peeled for more stranded seals. These seals may be too sick to continue to swim and would be in need of a rescue and medical care.

Anyone who sees a stranded or injured seal can call the NOAA hotline: 866-755-NOAA (6622).

People are also advised not to get within 100 yards of a stranded or injured seal for your safety and theirs.

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