82 False Killer Whales Confirmed Dead After Mysterious Stranding In Florida

Nearly 100 were stranded in the Everglades National Park and most, sadly, did not make it.

Credit: NOAA Fish Southeast

A tragic incident struck the coast of Florida in Everglades National Park on Monday when 95 false killer whales, a type of dolphin that earned its name by resembling orcas, were found to be stranded and many died from being in shallow water for too long.

The huge pod of false killer whales were first noticed by the U.S. National Coast Guard the Saturday prior to the deaths and were deemed lost in the mangroves on the shoreline. When a rescue team reached the dolphins on Sunday, it was too late.

NOAA?s mammal stranding network Blair Mase told Waking Times,?

?Once on the scene, the response team attempted to herd the whales into deeper water, however, they were ultimately unsuccessful in that effort.?

In the end, 82 of the 95 false killer whales were pronounced dead and the remaining 13 were unaccounted for, leaving rescuers to hope that they made it out of the maze of mangroves alive. Mangroves are trees that make up forests surrounding aquatic areas whose roots are dense, tangled, and branch out far into the surrounding water.

Local marine biologist?Stefanie Wolf explained to Fox 4 Now?that the area is particularly hard for humans to navigate, let alone dolphins whose echolocation would have been deeply interrupted and rendered useless by the surrounding roots.

Credit: AP

This would explain why the large amount of dolphins were able to get so lost inside the national park, but scientists still want to determine if there might have been another driving force behind the unusual incident.?NOAA Marine Biologist Erin Fougeres told NPR,?

“This is the largest mass stranding ever for this species in the United States and one of the largest mass strandings we’ve ever had in the southeast.”

Several agencies will perform necropsies in the coming months but even once results are in there’s no guarantee that a cause for the stranding will be found. It may simply be that the social groups of dolphins followed each other into the park and were unable to find their way out after getting stuck.

Whatever the cause was, the resulting deaths were?a tragedy for the false killer whale population, as the species remains threatened and among those that perished were calves and juveniles who would have?made up the next generation of false killer whales.

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