Despite the best efforts of volunteers and officials only 5 whales survived after a pod of 22 pilot whales beached themselves on the South Florida coast this weekend.
Pilot whales beached on Florida coast
The pod of 22 whales was discovered at Avalon Beach Park in Florida on Saturday morning, ranging from calves to juveniles and adult whales.
It's not known why they beached themselves but Allison Garrett, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) fisheries service is quoted in the Boston Herald saying, "Pilot whales are very social animals." "One scenario could be one of the animals was sick. They won’t leave (a sick whale). They’ll stay together." And Blair Mase, stranding coordinator for NOAA tells TCPalm, "If you push them into the water, they’ll just keep coming back and stranding themselves again."
Hundreds of nearby residents joined state and federal officials in mounting a huge rescue operation that lasted all day Saturday. They tried to keep the whales upright to help them breath and covered their skin with moist towels and by pouring water over them, but by the evening only five of the whales, two calves and three juveniles, could be saved. They were transported to a nearby rehabilitation center.
Volunteer Charleen Alioto, drove nearly two hours to help the rescue effort, telling WPTV, "We grabbed our buckets and off we came. But as you can see we were too late to help."
The Boston Herald quotes officials saying the other 17 whales died of natural causes or had to be humanely euthanized. Garrett says, "It was not possible to rehabilitate them."
Mase says, "I think that people want to help animals," especially whales and dolphins, because they are our counterparts in the seas. They're mammals, they're intelligent, they're social. They're a lot like us."