NOAA: About 20 Pilot Whales Found Dead Off Florida

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News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: January 23, 2014

MIAMI (AP) -- About 20 pilot whales have been founded dead off Florida's southwest coast.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries official Blair Mase said the whales were spotted by boaters on Kice Island Thursday.

The whales were part of a pod of 23 first discovered swimming Sunday in Naples Bay. They were seen again Monday about 2 miles off Marco Island.

Eight other pilot whales died at Lover's Key near Fort Myers earlier in the week. Necropsies showed they all had empty stomachs. A cause of death has not been determined.

Pilot whales are susceptible to mass strandings because they tend to form close-knit social groups. However, Mase said there has been a higher number over the last year.

More than 50 pilot whales were stranded in the Everglades in December.

News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: January 22, 2014

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Biologists are continuing to perform necropsies on eight pilot whales that died in shallow waters off southwest Florida.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration biologist Erin Fougeres says a couple of the whales were emaciated, but the rest were in fairly good condition. She says that's not surprising because pilot whales have a tightknit social structure and if one ailing whale swims to shore, even healthy members of its pod will follow it.

It wasn't clear yet whether the whales had suffered from a disease or toxicity.

The dead whales include five males, two females and one whose sex hasn't been determined. They died earlier this week in the waters off Lover's Key State Park.

They were among dozens of whales that swam close to shore in Lee and Collier counties.

News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: January 21, 2014

MIAMI (AP) -- Authorities said eight pilot whales have died in shallow waters off Florida's southwest coast. Six others remain unaccounted for.

The Coast Guard temporarily closed the area to traffic and ordered boaters to reduce speeds Tuesday as they searched for the other whales.

On Monday, two whales died and two others were euthanized after beaching themselves near Fort Myers.

Officials said necropsies will be performed on the dead whales to find out whether they were sick.

In December, more than 50 pilot whales stranded in Everglades National Park. Several died.

Pilot whales live in deep water and swim inland if they suffer from toxicity or disease. They tend to travel in pods of a couple dozen or more and tend to follow one or two pod leaders, or navigators.

News Release: Associated Press News

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Two pilot whales have died and a third will be euthanized after dozens of whales swam into shallow waters off southwest Florida.

Kim Amendola of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service says a handful of whales stranded Monday near shore in Lee County. More than a dozen other whales were swimming nearby, and an additional 12 whales had been spotted farther offshore earlier in the morning.

NOAA regional stranding coordinator Blair Mase says necropsies will be performed on the three beached whales. She says the remaining whales appear listless and emaciated.

Officials were monitoring roughly two dozen other pilot whales off Collier County. Those whales were the same pod that swam into shallow waters off Naples on Sunday. Mase says they also appear in poor shape.

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