MURRAY HARBOUR, P.E.I. -- The federal Fisheries Department is investigating the discovery of about 50 dead grey seals on a beach in Prince Edward Island.

The department says it launched the probe after the seals were found on the weekend.

Pierre-Yves Daoust, a wildlife pathologist with the University of Prince Edward Island, says students from the school found the seals on the province's eastern shore Saturday, just a day after seeing them healthy in the same area.

He says he suspects the seals were killed by people as they were found with wounds on their bodies, but he is carrying out necropsies to rule out the possibility of infections or other natural causes of death.

Daoust, who works at the university's Atlantic Veterinary College, says it would be highly unusual to have such a large number of seals die so quickly of a natural cause.

He says the results will be passed on to investigators with the Fisheries Department in about a week.