Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, photo provided by the National Park Service, pilot whales are stranded on a beach in a remote area of the western portion of Everglades National Park, Fla. Federal officials said some whales have died. The marine mammals are known to normally inhabit deep water. (AP Photo/National Park Service)
Officials: 35 pilot whales moving in deeper water
First Published Dec 05 2013 07:39 am • Last Updated Dec 05 2013 02:10 pm

Everglades National Park, Fla. • Pods of 35 pilot whales have been moving into deeper water off Florida’s southwest coast, raising optimism that the strandings may soon end on a positive note.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries official Blair Mase said Thursday the three pods were located nine miles north of their original location and moving offshore. They were in 12 feet of water at midafternoon.

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Mase says anything can still happen, but officials think the whales have a chance to reach their normal deep-ocean range. She also says the total of dead whales has reached 11 and five are unaccounted for.

The large group of whales was first spotted Tuesday in very shallow water in Everglades National Park. Those that died are being studied for the reasons they beached themselves.

The short-finned pilot whale is a deep-water species that cannot survive long in the shallows.

Six whales were found dead in the remote area on the park’s western edge, and four had to be euthanized. The whales were first spotted Tuesday about 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of where they normally live. It takes more than an hour to reach the spot from the nearest boat ramp and there is no cellphone service, complicating rescue efforts.

Teams from NOAA, the National Park Service, the Coast Guard and state wildlife agencies were working to prevent any more whales from stranding. The animals had not been cooperating Wednesday, when most were in about 3 feet of water.

The short-finned pilot whales typically live in very deep water. Even if rescuers were able to begin nudging the 41 remaining whales out to sea, they would encounter a series of sandbars and patches of shallow water along the way.

The species also is known for its close-knit social groups: If one whale gets stuck or stays behind, the others are likely to stay or even beach themselves as well.

"It would be very difficult for the whales to navigate out on their own," Mase said.


story continues below
story continues below

Federal officials were notified about the whales Tuesday around 4 p.m. Because of the remote location, workers were unable to access the site before dark. They arrived Wednesday morning and discovered 45 whales still alive.

"There were some that were very compromised and in very poor condition," Mase said.

Four were euthanized with sedatives, and more could be put down Thursday if their condition deteriorates, Mase said. She described the remaining whales as swimming and mobile but said scientists don’t know how long they’ve been out of the deep, colder water. She said they could be affected by secondary consequences, such as dehydration.

"I don’t think we have a lot of time," Mase said.

Mase confirmed Thursday that sharks had begun to feed on the dead whales. Necropsies were being done Wednesday, and scientists will look for disease or other signs to indicate how whales got stuck in the shallow Everglades waters.



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.