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More than 30 pilot whales beach themselves

SHARE More than 30 pilot whales beach themselves

Drew Wilson, Associated Press

A volunteer with the North Carolina Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Bruce Ferrier of Kitty Hawk, N.C., pours water over a live pilot whale on Coquina Beach on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore near Oregon Inlet, N.C., on Saturday. More than 30 pilot whales beached themselves early Saturday in rough surf and by afternoon at least 15 were confirmed dead, said Laura Engleby, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We suspect there are more than 30 stranded whales, she said. "The sea conditions have been fluctuating, making it difficult to account for all of them." It is not uncommon for pilot whales to beach themselves, but scientists do not know why. The pilot whale is a protected species but not endangered, Engleby said. NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service was coordinating a recovery effort that involved biologists, Coast Guard crews and the National Park Service. Mass strandings of pilot whales are not unusual in Florida and New England, but the stranding on the North Carolina coast was unusual. Adult pilot whales can reach 20 feet long and weigh up to three tons.