Over 100 Whales Saved in Sri Lanka

On November 2nd of 2020, over 100 short-finned pilot whales became beached for an unknown reason. Local villagers joined the navy, coast guard and environmental service members to help push the small whales back into deeper water so that they could make their way back out into the open ocean. While most of the whales made it, One Green Planet reported that 4, unfortunately did not make it.

Local volunteers rescuing a Short-Finned Pilot Whale – Image Source: TheJakartaPost.com

While whale beachings are not uncommon, scientists have a range of theories as to why they do it. One is that while hunting for food, they become disoriented and accidentally end up beaching themselves. Other theories are geomagnetic anomalies which can affect their echolocation ability, injury from military sonar or disease.

As scientists and marine biologists learn more about why they do this and try to help prevent it from happening in the first place, this is still a HUGE conservation win!

The amount of locals who came out to help with this rescue was a lot! MSN.com reported that the rescue took over 18 hours!

Short-finned pilot whales can weigh between 2,200 lbs and 6,600 lbs. With 120 whales that were reported to be beached – with an average weight of 4,400lbs per whale, that’s 52,800 lbs that needed to be moved by humans. Pretty nuts! An amazing feat that deserves recognition for sure for the 116 whales who were successfully rescued and returned to the ocean.

Short-Finned Pilot Whale compared to an average human – Image Source: Chris_huh, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

The short-finned pilot whale has a global population of about 700,000 according to wikipedia. Their range is the Pacific ocean, Atlantic ocean and the Indian Ocean. They typically travel in pods of 10 to 30 whales, however, they have been seen traveling in pods of several hundred individuals.

Short-Finned Pilot Whales – Image Source: NOAA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Like the Killer Whale, the short-finned pilot whale has a matrilineal social hierarchy with an elder female at the head, and a sizable post-reproductive lifespan. This species is polygynous, and females often outnumber males 8:1 in a pod.

To everyone who was involved in the rescue of these whales, thank you!

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