News24

Pod of pilot whales beaches in Florida

2012-09-02 18:58

Fort Pierce - More than 20 pilot whales came ashore on a South Florida beach on Saturday, triggering a day long effort by state and national officials, nearby residents and others to save them.

By evening, five pilot whales - two calves and three juveniles - had been transported to Florida Atlantic University's Harbour Branch Institute for rehabilitation. The rest had died of natural causes or had to be humanely euthanased, said Allison Garrett, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service.

"It was not possible to rehabilitate them," she told The Associated Press.

The pod of 22 whales came ashore on Saturday morning at Avalon Beach State Park in St Lucie County. They ranged from calves and juveniles to adult whales.

Garrett said it was unclear why the whales became stranded.

"Pilot whales are very social animals," she said. "One scenario could be one of the animals was sick. They won't leave [a sick whale]. They'll stay together."

For this reason, it's useless to push pilot whales back into the ocean, Blair Mase, stranding co-ordinator for NOAA's Southeast Region, told TCPalm.com.

"If you push them into the water, they'll just keep coming back and stranding themselves again," said Mase, who was surfing in the area when he noticed people running toward the beached whales.

TCPalm.com reported that hundreds of residents came to the beach to assist with the rescue, helping the animals turn upright so they could breathe better. Volunteers covered the whales with moist towels and poured water over them.

Red Cross volunteers helped ensure that volunteers stayed hydrated in the hot sun.

Still, there was a sad undercurrent to the efforts, with rescuers aware that most of the whales were dying.

Comments
  • Du Mabaso - 2012-09-02 20:01

    news 24 where are my comments

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