4 sperm whales die in In­done­sia beach res­cue

The Philippine Star - - WORLD -

ACEH BE­SAR (AFP) — 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 along Ujong Kru­eng beach in Aceh prov­ince Mon­day, with one seen fur­ther 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.

“We had prob­lems evac­u­at­ing them due to lack of ex­pe­ri­ence and equip­ment. 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,” Aceh na­ture con­ser­va­tion agency head Sapto Aji Prabowo told AFP.

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 the lead­ers to the beach,” Prabowo said.

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.

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