Short-Finned Pilot Whales Have Stranded Themselves at Everglades National Park

As many as 30 to 40 short-finned pilot whales have stranded themselves in Florida's Everglades National Park.

As many as ten have beached themselves, with four having already died, according to officials.

The pod was first seen on Tuesday, about 30 miles from Flamingo in Monroe County.

Experts from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration are trying to figure out what's causing the whales to beach themselves, and are expected to examine the animals further on Wednesday. A rescue mission is also planned, thought is hard to say if the whales will survive.

On Tuesday, marine officials were able to push back six of the ten whales that had beached themselves, but four of the whales soon died.

Short-finned pilot whales are common in the Gulf of Mexico. This particular pod was discovered swimming in shallow water on Tuesday afternoon by a fisherman near Highland Beach, which is about three-quarters of a mile off the shoreline in Monroe County.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be assisting NOAA in rescuing the whales.

Back in October, we wrote about how aquatic live, including whales and dolphins, could be killed within the next five years via Navy military tests near the Gulf of Mexico.

Sonar, specifically, threatens the animals by disrupting their foraging and forcing them to abandon their habitat or beach themselves. It confuses the animals, oftentimes making them swim in different directions.

According to a recent environmental-impact statement from the military, computer models estimated a total of 186 whales and dolphins dying or being injured off the East Coast.

The report also said there could be as many as 11,267 serious injuries to sea life and 1,89 million minor ones, including hearing loss.

While we don't know for sure what's causing this pod to strand themselves in shallow water, it's something to consider.

"Marine biologists will go out with the team today to figure out a way to steer them away from the beach," said Everglades National Park spokesperson Linda Friar on Tuesday. "They think that they will get most of them to move on. It may take a few days."

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph