Rescue workers fought to keep between 100-150 long-finned pilot whales from beaching themselves on Snæfellsnes in west Iceland last night, reports RÚV.
“The problem was that they kept pushing for shore,” Kristinn Jónasson, the mayor of Snæfellsbær told RÚV. “Some of them got hurt swimming into the rocks and you could tell they were bleeding.”
It took two tries to push the pod of whales out away from shore and Jónasson said the animals were confused and loud. “Something happens in their heads and it takes a determined effort to get them away.”
“We try to get them back into the ocean because it’s a real bother if they get beached,” said Jónasson. “You have to remove the animal and that is expensive, plus it is not fun to see the animals die on the shore.”
The pod also included young animals and calves and Jónasson said that the young had eagerly followed their elders when they started racing for shore. He claims that the number of strandings have increased in recent years.
“There used to be decades between these things. Two years ago we managed to save a pod and in 2013 one died. It hasn’t happened this frequently before.”
Long-finned pilot whale are the species most commonly involved in mass strandings. With 1,000 beaching themselves on Chatham Islands in 1918.