Four sperm whales die in beach res­cue

Kuwait Times - - Health -

ACEH BE­SAR: Four sperm whales stranded on a beach in In­done­sia have died, a lo­cal of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day, de­spite fran­tic ef­forts to save the mas­sive mam­mals. The whales were among a pod of 10 spot­ted by lo­cals stranded along Ujong Kru­eng beach in Aceh prov­ince Mon­day, with one seen far­ther out in the wa­ter. Res­cuers tried to push the nine beached whales back out to sea as hun­dreds of cu­ri­ous lo­cals looked on, some snap­ping pic­tures.

Five were pushed back and sur­vived but four died, some with their mouth agape as small waves crashed over their gi­ant bod­ies. Res­cuers tied ropes to the tails of some of the mam­mals to pull them to deeper wa­ter. “We had prob­lems evac­u­at­ing them due to a lack of ex­pe­ri­ence and equip­ment,” Aceh na­ture con­ser­va­tion agency head Sapto Aji Prabowo said.

“But this is a good lesson for us be­cause Aceh is a cross­ing point for marine mam­mals so in the fu­ture we should be pre­pared to deal with sit­u­a­tions like this.” An of­fi­cial au­topsy will be con­ducted on the whales to deter­mine the cause of death, but Prabowo said the gi­ant gray crea­tures may have fol­lowed their leader to shore or lost their way. “Usu­ally, sperm whales will avoid go­ing into deep wa­ter if they’re sick. Two of them were sick. So, we as­sume the lead­ers were sick and the oth­ers au­to­mat­i­cally fol­lowed them to the beach,” Prabowo said.

One whale had wounds that sug­gested it had been in­jured by a coral reef, he said, adding that the four dead will be buried close to the beach. This is the se­cond time in the last few years that sperm whales have been found beached in north­ern­most Su­ma­tra is­land, with one found dead on a beach in Banda Aceh in 2016. Also last year, eight pi­lot whales died af­ter a mass strand­ing on the coast of In­done­sia’s main is­land of Java. They were among a group of more than two dozen short-finned pi­lot whales that had come ashore dur­ing high tide. — AFP

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