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Dozens of whales stranded off Everglades National Park

5:41 PM, Dec 4, 2013   |    comments
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Pilot whales are stranded on a beach in a remote area of the western portion of Everglades National Park, Fla. (Photo: National Park Service via AP)


As many as 46 whales are stranded off the shoreline of the Everglades National Park in South Florida, and 10 of them have died, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Blair Mase said four of the whales were euthanized Wednesday, and six had already died.

The stranded whales were in 3 feet of water on the Gulf of Mexico side of the park, Mase said.

Linda Friar, a spokeswoman for the Everglades National Park, said it was not immediately clear whether the whales would survive rescue efforts. The whales were distressed, and hot temperatures can decrease the likelihood of survival, she said. The whales also could get washed ashore.

Park staff, biologists and NOAA officials were working to move the whales to deeper water so they can swim to the ocean, but the operation could take more than a day, Friar said. Rescuers were using boats to herd the whales out of the shallow water.

Nine whales beached themselves Tuesday in the same area. Four of them died. On Wednesday, dozens more apparently from the same pod became stranded in an area of shallow water about the size of a football field, Friar said. Park staff won't move the dead whales, as policy dictates to let them decompose naturally, Friar said.

"Why they beach themselves, we don't know," she said.

It is not unusual for the whales to be near the park, and they sometimes get stranded, but it does not happen often, she said.

The whales are believed to be short-fin pilot whales, which are deep-water animals, Mase said. They can measure up to 16-20 feet.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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