Groups of rescuers attempted to save more than 100 beached dolphins along the Hokata Beach northeast coast in Japan on Friday. Despite these efforts, according to local officials in Hokata, only three were saved.
The beached dolphins were said to be a type of blackfish or Electra dolphins, also known as melon head whales. This type of dolphin is common in Japanese waters and grows to a length of two or three meters in size and to a weight of more than 200 kilograms. In addition, this breed of dolphins normally travels amidst the world’s tropical and subtropical ocean waters.
Dozens Try to Save Beached Dolphins
Many people rushed to the scene, which covered about six miles of the beach, in an attempt to save the beached dolphins. Rescuers poured water on the animals and covered them with wet towels in order to keep them calm, but many were already weak and injured to the point where they couldn’t be helped; footage from local TV channels reveals that many were cut, scratched and bleeding.
However, rescuers were able to save three of the mammals, which appear to be in good health; the animals were taken by a Japanese Coast Guard vessel and released into the ocean several kilometers from shore. Local officials state that they were unable to bring heavy gear into the area fast enough in order to save more of the beached dolphins.
Loss of Sonar Attributed to Stranding
A scientist from the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tadasu Yamadao, suggested that the beached dolphins may have become stranded after losing their sense of direction. He went on to explain that dolphins use sonar to find their way and that the shoals along the beach could have absorbed the sonar waves, essentially making them ineffective. He and others from the center are expected to investigate further to try to determine the cause of the stranding.
Previous Dolphin Strandings Have Occurred
This is not the first time that this type of dolphin stranding has occurred in this area of Hokata beach. In 2011, nearly 50 of the same type of dolphins experienced a similar fate in the same spot. Officials state that strandings of one or two whales or dolphins happen every year, but this is the first time a hundred beached dolphins have been sighted. By evening, the rescue attempt was called off due to the darkness and the lack of equipment.
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