Rescuers worked tirelessly Monday in an effort to rescue 10 sperm whales that were stranded on an island off the tip of Sumatra in Indonesia’s Aceh Province. According to the BBC, six of the animals were successfully saved while the remaining four died.
— Strandings Indonesia (@stranding_ID) November 13, 2017
The whales were spotted on Monday morning by an organization called Whale Strandings Indonesia that initiated rescue efforts. Local officials along with the help of nonprofits like World Wildlife Fund Indonesia assisted in the 24-hour ordeal to rescue the whales using nets, tarpaulins and boats.
Whale Strandings Indonesia reported early Tuesday morning that seven of the animals were successfully refloated back to sea, five of them by sunset Monday night and two before sunrise on Tuesday. In an update, the organization confirmed that the remaining three that had not been refloated died and a fourth that was refloated returned to the beach and died as well.
In a post on Twitter, the organization confirmed that proper authorities will perform a necropsy on the four animals that died to assess their cause of death and that “they will be buried locally soon.”
No necropsy today; all 4 whales are to be buried locally soon. More detail tomorrow. Tidak ada nekropsi hari ini, keempat paus akan dikubur di lokasi. Detil berikutnya besok pagi…
— Strandings Indonesia (@stranding_ID) November 14, 2017
For now, it remains unclear why the whales were in such shallow waters in the first place.
Back in February, hundreds of pilot whales washed up on the shores of New Zealand, and researchers were similarly puzzled.
Regina Asmutis-Silvia, the director of the North American office of Whale and Dolphins Conservation, told the New York Times there are multiple reasons such strandings occur “including navigational error, changes in the environment, a wayward hunt for food or tidal changes.”
Sperm whales travel as a tight-knit group. “When they’re in tight social groups they’re in this together,” Ms. she said.