Mass whale stranding puzzles Florida biologists

17 pilot whales die, 5 calves survive

Published On: Sep 02 2012 06:52:53 AM EDT   Updated On: Sep 04 2012 12:12:02 AM EDT
Whale Image
FORT PIERCE, Fla. -

A pod of 22 pilot whales beached themselves at the Avalon Beach State Park in Fort Pierce Saturday morning. Only five calves ended up surviving.

Hundreds of people on the beach tried to help the whales.

By the time trained biologists arrived, crews were forced to euthanize many of the whales who were not already dead.

All five calves were taken to Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Institute.

Biologists say they will work around the clock to nurse and comfort the calves. If all goes according to plan, they will then be taken to Sea World Orlando for further rehabilitation.

PHOTOS: MASS PILOT WHALE STRANDING

Biologists say they would like to keep the whales together before releasing them back into the wild.

Necropsies will be performed on the carcasses of the 17 whales that did not surviveĀ  to determine why they beached themselves.

Biologists tell Local 10 that pilot whales are very social mammals and will stick together no matter what.

DONATE: LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP THE SURVIVING WHALES

Causes for a group stranding could include the pod following one sick whale to shore, but they won't know for certain what happened until they examine all of them.

Wanted volunteers need to be highly trained, so not everyone can help take care of the whales. However, people can help by donating to the cost of the care.

To donate to the care of the surviving animals, you can visit FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute's website.