Biologists and wildlife officials have taken samples from the bodies of 25 pilot whales who beached near Kice Island in southwest Florida. There has been an increase in the deaths of whales in Florida but it's not known why this is happening.
A spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Kim Amendola said fisherman spotted the dead whales on Thursday. These whales, 16 females and nine males, were members of a pod that was spotted last Sunday near Naples, Florida. Despite normally habituating in deep waters the pod was spotted swimming in shallow waters.
Earlier in the week on a beach near Lover's Key State Park, some 40 miles to the north of where the 25 dead whales were found, the bodies of eight pilot whales were discovered. Biologists hope examining the carcasses may shed light on why the whales beached themselves.
Pilot whales: history of stranding on beaches
The reasons behind such a beaching, or stranding, has perplexed scientists and everything from pollution to disease, trauma and anomalies in the magnetic fields have been blamed. Whales are also believed to be extremely loyal and some believe they refuse to leave stricken pod members to die alone.
Pilot whales are more known for it than virtually any other species of whales. Darlene Ketten, a neuroethologist and senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Cape Cod, Mass., is on record as saying that pilot whales have been beaching for centuries.
"There are some species like pilot whales that are notorious for mass strandings," Ketten told Scientific American in a 2009 interview. "We have records going back to Puritan settlements in New England reporting mass strandings in the same places we see them today. Back then, it was a BBQ instead of a disaster."
The biologists who took samples from the dead whales near Kice Island said that they do not believe the whales had any interaction with humans.