Human Interest

Dozens of pilot whales stranded on Sri Lankan coast

Colombo, Nov 2 (efe-epa).- Dozens of short-finned pilot whales were on Monday found stranded on the western coast of Sri Lanka, where the island’s authorities were trying to return the animals to deep waters.

A pod of around 60 whales beached on the Panadaura beach on Sri Lanka’s western coast, around 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Colombo, causing alarm among conservationists.

“There is a high possibility of their internal organs being damaged already. It is very possible for them to die, we are hoping for the best,” Terney Pradeep Kumara, the general manager of the Marine Environment Protection Authority, told EFE.

Kumara said that the pilot whales could have dived deep after being affected by sonar from a ship, and subsequently lost their way.

He warned that such an encounter could cause a potentially deadly saturation of nitrogen in the mammals’ blood.

“We may see more whales following this group into the same area,” said the expert.

Both the coast guard and the Sri Lankan navy are trying to move the whales away from the coast, an option which is still viable according to Chandana Sooriyabandara, the director general of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, who briefed EFE.

Scientists have not been able to determine the exact reasons why whale pods become stranded in shallow waters after deviating from their routes. However, there is a possibility that they get lost as they are attracted to noise pollution.

The short-finned pilot whales measure between 4 and 5.5 meters in length and inhabit tropical and subtropical waters in groups of around 100 members, often becoming stranded en-masse on beaches due to moving in large groups.

Although there are no official figures, scientists estimate that there are about 700,000 specimens of short-finned pilot whales distributed across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. EFE-EPA

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