World Rescue workers save three pilot whales, 46 perish stranded...

Rescue workers save three pilot whales, 46 perish stranded on a beach

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648x415 46 baleines pilotes peri echouees cote indonesie

46 pilot whales perished, stranded on the coast in Indonesia. – June Kriswanto / AFP

Forty-six small pilot whales stranded on a beach in Indonesia have perished but efforts to try to save them have allowed three more to survive, authorities said on Friday.

These cetaceans arrived from Thursday on the shores of Madura Island, in northern Java, according to an official statement. A large crowd gathered on this beach as soon as the operation to rescue them began. Volunteers even tried with their bare hands to return them to the sea.

Cetaceans threatened by currents and waste

Curious people took pictures and touched these pilot whales with short fins – also called pilot whales – while others sprayed them with water. The three surviving cetaceans “must have been released together (in the waves) because they live in groups,” East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa said in the statement.

He added that samples had been taken from the dead animals to investigate the causes of their stranding. Their carcasses three to five meters long then had to be buried in the sand on the beach at low tide. Cross currents in this area pose a danger to these marine mammals, as they can find themselves trapped between reefs close to land.

Pollution, abandoned nets and floating plastic waste are other threats to them. Last July, ten pilot whales were found lifeless near Kupang, a town in East Nusa Tenggara province, still in Indonesia. In 2018, the corpse of a whale having swallowed more than 100 cups and 25 plastic bags was also discovered in this immense archipelago.

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