Sri Lanka’s navy, police officers, and local residents rescued 120 pilot whales stranded in the country’s worst mass beaching.
The school of short-finned pilot whales had washed ashore at Panadura.
Local villagers defied a coronavirus curfew to join the navy and help push the whales back into deeper water so they could swim out into the ocean.
“The people around here got together and saved most of them,” marine biologist Dr Asha De Vos told news agency AFP. “But some of the whales were very tired fighting to stay afloat the whole night and didn’t have enough strength to go to deep sea. That is why a few died.”
Only four whales died.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) confirmed the Panadura incident was the largest single pod of whales stranded in the south Asian country.
“It is very unusual for such a large number to reach our shores,” MEPA chief Dharshani Lahandapura told AFP.
It is still not known why whales beach themselves despite scientists studying the phenomenon for decades.