By Jane Sutton
MIAMI (Reuters) – Dozens of whales were beached in the Everglades National Park in southwest Florida, and rangers and wildlife workers were trying to keep the animals stable until the tide rose enough to allow them to return to sea, a park spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
About 30 whales were stranded in shallow water, and 10 more were on the shore, in a remote park of the Everglades near the Gulf of Mexico when the pod was first sighted Tuesday, park spokeswoman Linda Friar said.
Of those on shore, four had died and workers had managed to get six back into deeper water, Friar said.
The animals were believed to be short-finned pilot whales, typically found in deep water in tropical and temperate areas.
“Pilot whales are common stranders. They tend to do this,” Friar said. When rescued, she said, “they tend to rebeach themselves.”
Rangers and workers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, were trying to keep the whales wet and stable until the tide rose high enough for them to swim out, Friar said.
“This area of the park is probably the most challenging for something like this. When the tide goes out, there’s hundreds of yards of very shallow shoals,” Friar said, adding that the effort could take a few days.
Short-finned pilot whales typically travel in pods of 25 to 30 animals. Adults weigh 2,200 to 6,600 pounds (1,000 to 3,000 kg), with females averaging 12 feet long and males averaging 18 feet long, according to NOAA.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)