UK & World News

  • 26 February 2013, 6:07

Chile Navy Tries To Save Stranded Whales

Rescuers have been trying to save around 50 pilot whales which beached themselves off Chile.

Fishermen spotted the pod of short-finned whales stranded on a beach in southern Chile's Strait of Magellan on Sunday, 65 miles south of Punta Arenas.

Fisherman Jorge Carcamo said: "Around four in the afternoon we were getting closer to our port and you could see the [beached] whales from the boat. You could see two at first and then when we got closer, sadly, we counted 46 or more."

After notifying the Chilean army, the fishermen worked to get as many of the mammals, many of which measured six metres (20 feet) in length back to sea.

"We never thought there would be so many," said fisherman Juan Diaz. "We never imagined they would be alive. We thought they were dead. At least 80% were alive."

The reasons behind whale strandings are still unclear but pilot whales are a species that commonly strand themselves on beaches.

Chilean Navy official Claudio Zuniga said every effort would be made to save the whales.

"We have deployed a patrol boat ... in order to see if we can do something to get the beached whales back to the sea," he said.

Male pilot whales, which are normally dark black and larger than their female counterparts, tip the scales at as much as three tonnes (6613 lbs).