Some 30 white-beaked dolphins have died after being trapped in ice off the coast of Canada's easternmost Newfoundland province, and three remaining alive are not faring well, officials said Monday.
Canadian fisheries officials twice visited the area around Cape Ray, Newfoundland where the animals were reported to have been trapped on Sunday and again Monday morning.
"All but three animals have died," ministry spokesman Larry Vaters told AFP.
"The remaining dolphins appear to be in extremely poor condition and current weather conditions of high winds and whiteouts in the area are not helping matters," he said.
The dolphins would have struggled for air as the ice floes crushed in around them, becoming exhausted and eventually drowning.
It is not uncommon to see dolphins, as well as porpoises and beluga whales swimming in the ice off Newfoundland waters during the spring thaw, officials noted.
The area's "unique geography and currents" tend to form so-called "whale traps" whenever the ice is heavy, Vaters noted. Six blue whales were driven ashore by ice and died here in 1987.
It is "very unfortunate" when marine animals become trapped in ice, Vaters said. But authorities, except in rare cases, will not intervene to rescue wild animals in distress.
Explore further: Rare dune plants thrive on disturbance