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Stranded Whales: Deeper Water Hopefully Found as Stuck Whales Disappear

Image: Stranded Whales: Deeper Water Hopefully Found as Stuck Whales Disappear Pilot whales are seen stranded in shallow water in a remote area of Florida's Everglades National Park on Dec. 4.

Friday, 06 Dec 2013 06:14 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Rescuers are hoping about 35 stranded whales made it to deeper water after they disappeared Friday from where they were stuck in the Florida Everglades.

The U.S. Coast Guard did an aerial survey of the national park, and an NOAA Fisheries Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator said it was “encouraging” that the whales couldn’t be found.

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“With a group that size there would be some members at the surface,” Mase told NBC News. “They may have gone out to sea but we just don’t know, given the area it’s hard to do a really thorough search.”

Fifty-one whales were first seen Tuesday, and by Thursday, 11 were dead and five couldn’t be found, Mase told NBC. Nine whales were spotted Friday, but watchers were unsure whether they were part of the large group, which had split into three pods.

The cause of the breaching isn’t known, but NBC said tissue samples were taken from some of the whales to see if that could be determined.

During the week, rescuers used about 15 boats to try to herd the whales to safety, CNN said, but that effort failed when many of the whales ended up in less than four feet of water.

Strandings of such large groups of whales aren’t rare in Florida. Two dozen pilot whales beached themselves in 2012, and 23 did so in 2011.

Mase, with the NOAA Fisheries, posted a timeline of events on the whale beaching on the organization’s website. The site said success rates for the stranding on low.

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