Florida Whales: Can They be Saved?


The Florida whale rescue continues, but can they be saved? Biologists are working towards saving a pod of 41 pilot whales, which are stranded in threateningly shallow water. It remains unclear, as to why this pod of whales traveled into such a remote area, because they would have had to travel over 20 miles of sandbars and flats, in order to journey from the deep waters they usually inhabit, to where they are now.

Endangered whales in the U.S have a network of volunteers and trained biologists at hand who are ready to help. Scientists today have more knowledge than ever before, accompanied by the equipment they need to implement a plan of action. Despite this, they do not always manage to save the marine mammals in turmoil.

Biologists are currently endeavoring to save the remaining short-finned whales in Florida. Blair Mase, the coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine mammal stranding network, stated that six whales have died, and four had to be subjected to euthanasia, because they were in large amounts of pain and were deemed unlikely to survive.

The surviving whales are stuck in water of a mere depth around three feet, and are in close proximity to the beach. Help has been attempting to steer the whales into deeper water, however thus far they have been unsuccessful. Reports have stated that they wish for expectations to remain low as the Florida whale rescue continues, because the challenge ahead is one of extreme difficulty, and it is uncertain whether they can be saved.

The whales were first detected by a group of fishermen, who reported the incident to NOAA. They provide a call center for anyone who observes a stranded marine mammal, and were eventually informed of the whales marooned in the Everglades National Park. People will often inform a local authority about afflicted oceanic mammals, and then the news will make its way up the chain towards NOAA.

The video below shows the stranded pilot whales, and how the survivors may be suffering from dehydration and malnutrition. Reports state that the whales need to make it at least 20 miles to reach waters deep enough to support them. Hopes were raised yesterday, as they moved to slightly deeper water.

Some of the whales have been swimming about freely, however they will not leave other whales in the pod. They are extremely social and loyal mammals. It is this type of cohesion, that may doom the entire group. In 2012, a similar occurrence happened as more than two dozen pilot whales were found stranded. Experts stated that this also happened because whales refused to leave a sick or fallen member behind. This is increasingly common in Florida.

As the Florida whale rescue continues, it can not be predicted whether the remainder of the surviving whales can be saved. NOAA are doing everything within their power to help the whales to their natural depths of water, however the challenge they face is one which contains many complexities. The whales will continue to be monitored, in hopes that they can outlive their current circumstances.

By Melissa McDonald