Over 40 whales die on Indonesian beach; rescuers save three

BANGKALAN (REUTERS) – Forty-six whales stranded on a beach on the Indonesian island of Madura have died, while rescuers managed to push three back out to sea, the provincial governor said on Friday (Feb 19).

A rescue effort was launched on Thursday after dozens of pilot whales beached. Volunteers pushed some back out to sea.

“But some came back here, trying to find their mothers, though it turns out the mothers are dead,” East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa said.

Video footage on Friday showed whales dotted across a wide area with residents wading in ankle-deep water, some trying to splash water on them or push them out to sea.

The governor told Reuters the authorities planned to bury the dead whales on Saturday once the tide has receded and said two excavators have been brought in.

It is not fully understood why whales, which travel together in pods, beach themselves but they are known to follow a leader as well as gather around an injured or distressed whale.

Whale Stranding Indonesia, a non-governmental organisation, says in 2020 more than 70 marine mammals were found stranded, including dugongs.

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