[WATCH] Four beached sperm whales die off coast of Indonesia

Four out of the ten whales found beached off the coast of Indonesia have died, with the other six being rescued

Rescuers attempt to save beached whales in Indonesia (Photo: CNN)
Rescuers attempt to save beached whales in Indonesia (Photo: CNN)

According to fisheries officials, four out of 10 whales, which were found beached off Indonesia’s Aceh province have died due to injuries and exhaustion.

According to WWF Indonesia, 10 whales were stranded on Monday, six of which were returned to the water, thanks to the efforts of the navy and locals.

The head of Aceh’s marine and fishery office, Nur Mahdi, said that two whales were both scratched and bruised died earlier today, whilst two others died a few hours later.

Rescuers fear that the six whales returned to the sea might attempt to come back for the four dead animals, risking being beached again.

Dwi Aryo Tjiptohandono, WWF Indonesia's marine and fisheries campaign coordinator, said the group was investigating how the whales had come to be stranded. Autopsies will be carried out on the dead animals.

The sperm whales were found to be beached on Monday at Ujong Kareng beach and attracted hundreds of on-lookers, who posed for pictures with them.

Dozens of local fishermen and residents flocked to the beach to desperately attempt to save the giant mammals and push them back into the ocean.

“We are not sure whether we can save them, but we are trying to be optimistic, we are trying our best”, said Hariadi Purnomo, the head of the rescue operation, earlier.

According to Whale Stranding Indonesia, a monitoring group, at least 30 animals have been beached since the beginning of the year, including whales, dolphins and dugongs, also known as sea cows.

It is not exactly clear why whales and other marine mammals get stranded, but experts say it can be a combination of factors, from old age, illness or injury, to accidental navigation errors.

"The strong social bonding of some species of whales can cause mass strandings," according to Project Jonah, a New Zealand-based whale charity.

"One of the most common patterns with mass strandings is that one or two whales will initially strand. These animals will send out distress signals and members from their pod may attempt to help or mill slightly off-shore. A receding tide will then catch these animals out and soon the whole pod will become stranded."

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