Wildlife experts are perplexed by a unsettling spate of sea otter deaths which have plagued the southern coast of Alaska.
More than 250 otters have died in the region this year, suggesting that a troubling trend is underway, since that number is double last year's count of otter deaths which had been considered above average at the time.
Although natural causes have been considered, the precipitous climb over a relatively short period of time indicates an unknown factor is playing a role in the ongoing die off.
Strangely, while some of the dead otters are found emaciated by illness, there are other that appear perfectly healthy and apparently succumbed to a sudden death.
One veterinarian has theorized that a particularly virulent strain of bacteria normally found in the animals may be behind the deaths, but conceded there is no explanation for what would suddenly make it so deadly.
The strange phenomenon harkens back to investigative reporter Linda Moulton Howe's September appearance on Coast to Coast AM when she shared her conversation with Dr. Richard Kock concerning the Saiga antelope die off which struck Kazakhstan over the Summer.
Kock also pointed to a bacterial source for the many animal deaths and suggested that rising temperatures in the region may have triggered a mutation which caused it to become deadly.