Mystery and sadness as 16 whales die

Mystery and sadness as 16 whales die

Why do whales get stranded?

Sixteen pilot whales have died after becoming stranded on a beach in Scotland. They were part of a group of 26 that got stuck on the sand on a beach.

Rescue teams, including the coastguard, divers, police and local vets, battled for hours to save the mammals. Ten were refloated out to sea and were carefully watched to make sure they didn't return.

Pilot whales can grow to be over six metres long. Out of water, their immense weight can crush their lungs and stop them breathing.

Rescuers tried desperately to get the whales upright to help them to breathe. The rescuers said "We also need to make sure they are kept wet and cool. If they are not, then they can overheat very quickly."

Pilot whale_96451208

Pilot whales swimming

Why do whales get stranded?

Sometimes, whales come closer to shore to look for food. Often, if one member of a pod is sick or injured, the rest of the family members will follow it ashore to try to help.

Only half of beaching cases around the world can be explained. Some environmentalists suggest that human impacts of pollution, shipping noise and military sonar have led to a rise in the number of whales being stranded.

Accidents and injury - such as a shark attack or a ship striking the animals - can result in whales and dolphins beaching. They are very loyal creatures with close family bonds, so will often follow a sick or injured member of their pod and try to help them.

Pilot whale facts

  • Like killer whales, pilot whales are members of the dolphin family.
  • They are the second biggest dolphins, after killer whales.
  • Pilot whales are very sociable and swim in groups of 20 to 90. These groups are called pods.
  • An adult pilot whale eats nearly 14 kilograms of food a day. They eat squid, octopus, cuttlefish and herring.
  • Male pilot whales can live to around the age of 45 years. Females can make it to 60 years old!

Reproduced with permission from The Daily What. The Daily What article was adapted from an article by Chris Taylor - read original story here .

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