Pod of Whales Stranded, At Least 10 Dead in Everglades National Park
updated 12/04/2013 AT 03:50 PM EST
•originally published 12/04/2013 AT 01:00 PM EST
On Tuesday, officials found 20 to 30 pilot whales either beached or stranded in waters in a remote area of the Florida park near Highland Beach in northern Monroe County.
Rangers helped some of the whales, but about 10 were beached late Tuesday.
Park spokeswoman Linda Friar says six of the whales were pushed back into the water. As of Wednesday, 10 whales died.
She says park rangers, along with crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are helping the whales again Wednesday.
The Gulf of Mexico has a prominent pilot whale population, so the animals are far from their deep water habitat. This makes it challenging for the rescuers to help them back out to sea, NOAA marine mammal scientist Blair Mase tells NBC Miami. Pilot whales are also particularly vulnerable to stranding incidents because of their close-knit nature.
"If we did push the healthy ones out," Mase adds to NBC, "if they see one dead one, they will come back again."