Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Pod of pilot whales comes ashore on Florida beach

First Published Sep 01 2012 05:47 pm • Last Updated Sep 01 2012 05:47 pm

Fort Pierce, Fla. • More than 20 pilot whales came ashore on a South Florida beach on Saturday, 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 euthanized, said Allison Garrett, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

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

The pod of 22 whales came ashore 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 added. "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 coordinator for NOAA’s Southeast Region, told TCPalm.com (http://bit.ly/TJA0D2 ).

"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 reports 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.

"I think that people want to help animals," said Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisth, a Harbor Branch volunteer who worked with others to tend to juveniles in a shaded inflatable pool. "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."


story continues below
story continues below

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

Garrett said there was no obvious sign of trauma or injury to the whales, but that necropsies would be performed on them. She said officials and volunteers spent the day assessing the health of the whales to see which could be rehabilitated, and then making the others comfortable.

She said the last such beaching in the area came in May 2011, on the Florida Keys.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.