Pod of 22 pilot whales beached in Florida

Pilot whale. Photo / Thinkstock
Pilot whale. Photo / Thinkstock

More than 20 pilot whales have come ashore on a south Florida beach, triggering a daylong 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 Harbor Branch Institute for rehabilitation.

The rest had died of natural causes or had to be humanely euthanased, said Allison Garrett, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service.

"It was not possible to rehabilitate them," she said.

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."

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 and pouring water over them to keep them cool.

-AAP

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