Mass Stranding Leaves 55-Whale Pod Dead, Survivors To Be Euthanized

Image not from story (Photo by Glenn NICHOLLS / AFP) (Photo by GLENN NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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A mass stranding left a pod of 55 whales dead with survivors set to be euthanized, the Associated Press reported.

The 55 pilot whales were found washed ashore on a Scotland beach on Sunday in the worst mass whale stranding reported in the area, according to the Associated Press.

“In terms of the number of casualty animals, this is the biggest one we’ve had,” Andrew Brownlow of the Marine Animal Stranding Scheme said, the outlet noted.

The marine mammals were reported as beached at Traigh Mhor beach on the Isle of Lewis in northwest Scotland, prompting marine rescuers, the coast guard and police to arrive at the scene. (RELATED: Fice Dead Whales Wash Up On Shores Of One State In One Month)

Fifteen whales were found alive, according to the British Divers Marine Life Rescue. They tried to refloat the group of living adults and calves low down in the water before rescue teams decided on Sunday afternoon that the remaining whales should be euthanized, the outlet reported. The decision to euthanize the surviving whales on welfare grounds was due to the shallow beach’s rough wave conditions and the long duration of time the whales had been out of the water.

The organization believes that a female whale may have had problems giving birth on the beach, causing the whole pod to follow and become beached.

“Pilot whales are notorious for their strong social bonds, so often when one whale gets into difficulty and strands, the rest follow,” the British Divers Marine Life Rescue charity said in a statement, the outlet reported. “A sad outcome for this pod and obviously not the outcome we were all hoping for.”

Post-mortem work will be conducted by experts on Monday to determine the whale pod’s cause of death. Samples and data will be extracted from some whales for analysis. Their bodies will be buried at a landfill site when the investigation is complete.