Officials: 5 whales found stranded on Edisto Beach, S.C.; at least 4 deceased
Four whales were found stranded on Edisto Beach around 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, according to Chief George Brothers of Edisto Police.
The whales were discovered near beach access 36.
According to wildlife officials, the four pilot whales have all died. Authorities said one of the whales was dead before crews arrived, and that some of the animals needed to be euthanized because they were all believed to be sick or injured.
Officials said attempting to return the living whales back to the water would likely have prolonged their suffering.
Four whales were found stranded on Edisto Beach around 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, according to Chief George Brothers of Edisto Police. (WCIV)
A viewer sent ABC News 4 video showing a whale outside of Big Bay Creek that appeared to be in distress.
Wildlife crews said two of the whales were adults while the other two were juveniles.
As of 1:30 p.m., the town was working to remove the bodies. Veterinarians will then perform necropsies before the bodies are properly disposed of.
“Definitely can’t pinpoint a cause of death at this time, but marine mammals typically strand for a reason, whether it’s illness, injury. Maybe one of them was injured and it followed suit. But at this time, we can’t really speculate on a cause of death,” explained Lauren Rust with Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network.
Around 4:30 p.m., Mayor Jane Darby said a fifth whale had stranded that afternoon.
“The most important thing is to understand why we don’t push animals back to shore, back to water. There’s a tendency to want to get them back to sea, but, again, they just strand for a reason, so we encourage people to leave them be and just call authorities as quickly as possible. We kept them cool and shaded as long as we could,” Rust added.
Earlier in the week, about 26 pilot whales stranded themselves around St. Catherines Island in Georgia, according to the Wildlife Resources Division, a portion of Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Among these whales, 15 of them died.