REDINGTON BEACH, Fla. — It took a couple dozen volunteers, nine hours and a lot of teamwork. But in the end, five beached pilot whales were successfully rescued at Redington Beach.
- 5 beached whales found Monday morning
- Authorities responded to whales on Redington Beach
- 2 taken to rehab center, 3 taken to deeper water
- LINKS: Short-finned pilot whale | Long-finned pilot whale
Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, along with Clearwater Marine Aquarium marine biologists, went to the aid of the distressed pilot whales Monday morning.
Crews, with the aid of boats and volunteers, took two of the whales to a rehabilitation facility in Tarpon Springs. The other three whales were guided back out to deeper water.
The whales ranged from 800 to 1,800 pounds and were 10 to 14 feet long.
The first of the whales, about 1,000 pounds in size, was lifted by dozens of people and taken for transport at about 2:40 p.m. By 4 p.m., all five of the whales had been rescued.
"It's sad in a way that they're stranded but it's very enlightening to see so many people helping," said resident Amy Sendaydiego.
It remains unclear why the whales became beached.
According to officials, pilot whales usually swim in large groups more than 100 miles offshore.
"Pilot whales live in really tight social cohesive units, it's all for one, one for all. So when one goes, they all go," said Laura Engleby of NOAA.
Authorities quickly set up tents and portable canopies over the whales Monday morning as officials evaluated the animals.
Hundreds ventured out onto the beach to watch the rescue operation. Wildlife officials allowed a few bystanders to come out to the tents to help in the efforts.
The hope is that the three whales taken back out to water will stay there.
"We've been wanting to see whales out here but not this way," said resident Roy Schuler.