A pod of ten pilot whales beached in Álftafjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland on Sunday. RÚV reports that most of the whales were dead when a team of biologists and a veterinarian arrived on the scene, but two survived the ordeal.
The West Iceland Nature Research Center received a call around 2:00pm alerting them to the pilot whales’ dire situation. When the team arrived, they found one whale swimming just offshore from where the rest of its pod had beached. One of the beached animals was still alive but having trouble breathing as it was stuck on its side and the tide was coming in.
The team was able to shift the beached whale back onto its belly so it could breathe properly and then helped move it back into the water. The animal was weak but recovered quickly and swam back to its companion. One of the whales “called to its friends several times,” said one of the biologists, “but, of course, it got no answers.”
The biologists said they needed a long moment to recover after rescuing the beached whale, but the emotional toll didn’t end there. They say that it’s clear that the two surviving whales don’t intend to leave the area while the rest of their pod lies dead on the beach. If they don’t leave the area, however, the biologists believe that it won’t be long before they beach on a nearby shore themselves.
The Nature Research Center urges people travelling in the area to keep an eye out for the whales and to immediately report any beaching incident to local police at 898-6638. Police will then contact Center employees to come and aid the animals.