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Pilot whales stranded close to shore in Eastham, Massachusetts

By WCVB Staff

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    EASTHAM, Massachusetts (WCVB) — Crews continue to work to rescue a group of whales that was stranded earlier this week on a Cape Cod beach.

International Fund for Animal Welfare said six live pilot whales were spotted swimming close to shore north of Sunken Meadow in Eastham on Monday. A team examined all the animals and tagged two of them.

IFAW said as of early Tuesday morning, five of the animals were still alive, but one calf died.

From Sky5, crews worked with the rising tide Tuesday afternoon to help the animals get back into deeper waters. All five were refloated and released just before 4 p.m., but four of the whales turned back toward shore.

“The five pilot whales swam off well in one direction together, but the reality is that we cannot celebrate a success yet this evening. One animal is now offshore, but the others did not follow. We will keep an eye on them (Wednesday) and evaluate next steps,” said Misty Niemeyer, stranding coordinator at IFAW.

As a mammals, pilot whales have lungs and breathe air. Dolphins and small whales can live out of water for many hours when receiving proper supportive care and hydration, IFAW said.

Pilot whales are not considered endangered. Experts say they may be more susceptible to stranding as they are highly social and exist in tight, closely bonded pods that may follow a sick member into shallow water.

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