Over 100 pilot whales have been saved after being stranded on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast.
A combination of the national navy and volunteers worked together on an overnight operation to push the whales back out to sea in Panadura, Sri Lanka. Despite the fact this was the island nation’s biggest ever beaching event, the vast majority of the animals were rescued with only two believed to have died on the beach.
“We used our small inshore patrol craft to pull the whales one by one back into deeper waters. Sadly, two whales have died of the injuries sustained when they beached,” navy spokesperson Indika de Silva told AFP.
Local villagers joined the rescue mission amid a coronavirus curfew in the area, all to save the stranded whales.
Although strandings are relatively common, scientists are still unsure as to why they happen. If they aren’t assisted back into the water, many whales die of dehydration, collapsing under their own weight, or drown when the hightide covers up their blowhole.
The Panadura incident has been confirmed as the largest single pod of whales stranded in the south Asian country by Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA).
“It is very unusual for such a large number to reach our shores,” MEPA chief, Dharshani Lahandapura, told AFP.