FORT PIERCE, Florida -- Only five of the more than 20 pilot whales that came ashore on a South Florida beach Saturday have survived, despite a daylong effort by state and national officials, nearby residents and others to save them.
A spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service says two calves and three juveniles have been transported to Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Institute for rehabilitation.
Allison Garrett says the rest died of natural causes or had to be humanely euthanized. She says although there was no obvious sign of trauma or injury to the whales, necropsies will be performed on them.
The pod of 22 whales came ashore this morning at Avalon Beach State Park in St. Lucie County. It's unclear why the whales became stranded. But Garrett says pilot whales are very social animals and "One scenario could be one of the animals was sick."
She says "They won't leave. They'll stay together."
For this reason, Blair Mase, stranding coordinator for NOAA's Southeast Region, tells TCPalm.com it's useless to push pilot whales back into the ocean because "they'll just keep coming back and stranding themselves again."