Efforts to rescue about 150 melon-headed whales, a member of the dolphin family, beached northeast of Tokyo, Japan, were abandoned after a daylong struggle to save them on Friday.
"It was becoming dark and too dangerous to continue the rescue work at this beach, where we could not bring heavy equipment," a Hokota city official said, according to Agence France-Presse
Rescuers were able to save only three of the dolphins, AFP said. Volunteers worked to stop their skin from drying and to carry them on slings into the ocean, but the tide pushed some of the animals back onto the beach.
The three that were saved were taken out to sea on Coast Guard ships.
The animals were found along a six-mile stretch of beach near the coastal city Hokota.
Officials were uncertain what caused the dolphins to get beached. Tadasu Yamadao, a researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science, speculated that they may have gotten lost, The Daily Mail reported
“Sonar waves the dolphins emit might have been absorbed in the shoals, which could cause them to lose their sense of direction,” he said.
About 50 melon-headed whales beached in the area in 2011, but normally only one or two are seen beached at a time.
Some of the animals died and were being buried, Japan Today reported
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