An amazing example of tireless caring happened last week in Sri Lanka. A combination of volunteers and members of the country's navy came together to help save 120 beached whales by returning them to the sea.
On Monday, November 2, a large pod of pilot whales were beached, or accidentally came ashore, at Panadura in western Sri Lanka. Becoming beached is very dangerous for whales. Though the animals can breathe air, they become distressed, stuck, and cannot survive very long outside of the water. They need to be cared for and returned to the water as soon as possible.
And this is where all of those helpful people came in!
Have you ever tried moving a whale?
In whale terms, short-finned pilot whales are pretty small. But compared to humans, these are still very large animals. They can reach six metres (20 feet) long and weigh 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lbs.). So when one is stuck on shore, it is not a duty for just one person.
Using the navy, dozens of local residents, and small boats, the work began. Especially challenging was the fact that even when people could get the whales off the beach, the waves washed many back onto the shore. Everyone had to work extra hard—through the day and night—to save the animals.
Successful effort, but mysterious cause
In the end, the good news is that almost all of the beached whales were saved. Two whales died but 120 were saved. Amazing!
Experts still don't really understand why these mass beachings happen. Back in September, 470 whales were beached in Tasmania, Australia. Local authorities were overwhelmed by these numbers and many of the whales died.
Researchers are working hard to better understand what causes these events. Is it certain weather conditions? The time of year? The hope is that they can become better at predicting when beachings happen and be ready to help.