Stranded pilot whales saved from shallow Florida shoreline

5 distressed whales appear to have beached themselves in Pinellas County

REDINGTON BEACH, Fla. (WWSB) - Authorities and beachgoers came together to protect and transport five pilot whales trapped in shallow water along Florida's western shore.

News outlets report the whales were first spotted Monday morning and biologists and beachgoers swung into action, covering the whales from the climbing sun as the tide pulled away from shore.

Biologists determined the whales were healthy enough for transport, and volunteers teamed up to move the heavy creatures. Three whales were returned to the sea, while two others were taken to a Clearwater Marine Aquarium facility in Tarpon Springs for medical treatment and testing.

Aquarium spokeswoman Carlee Wendell says pilot whale mass strandings have happened about a dozen times since 1990. Just this month, dozens of disoriented pilot whales were saved from a mass stranding near a Georgia shore.

ABC7 also spoke with Mote Marine about the incident. “Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program sent some staff to assist in the response to 5 beached pilot whales in Pinellas County. The effort is being led by FWC, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and NOAA, so they would be the sources to ask information about the response effort. If the team decides that the whales are to be taken into a rehab facility (not a decision made by Mote), that rehab facility would not be Mote Marine Laboratory,” Stephannie Kettle, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s Public Relations Manager.

One of our producers also spoke with CEO of Clearwater Marine Aquarium, David Yates who told us two of the smaller, younger ones were taken to Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s new standing area at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs. They are both undergoing medical reviews and tests Monday.

Results should come back later on Monday. If they are cleared (no medical issues) they will be released in the same area as the other three whales. All five will be satellite tracked.

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