FLORIDA — The outlook for dozens of short-finned pilot whales stranded in shallow water off Florida’s Everglades National Park “does not look good,” wildlife officials said Wednesday.
“We want to set the expectations low” that the 41 remaining stranded whales can be saved, said Blair Mase, a marine mammal scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The assessment came as the number of dead whales climbed to 10, including four euthanized by wildlife officials after being found in “poor condition,” Mase said.
Wildlife officials are unsure how long the pod of whales has been stranded. Fishermen spotted the whales, several of which had beached themselves, on Tuesday night in a remote area accessible only by boat off the west coast of the Everglades, park spokeswoman Linda Friar said.
An attempt earlier in the day to herd the whales out of the park’s remote Highland Beach failed.
Rescuers have been using five boats to create a blockade of sorts between the whales and the beach as part of the effort to keep them from beaching and simultaneously encouraging them to make their way back to the Gulf of Mexico, Friar said.
Wildlife officials believe that it took the pilot whales several days to travel the 20 miles from the deep waters where they typically make their home to the shallow beach area where they were found.
That area is blanketed with sandbars and sand flats.
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