Fifty pilot whales were found dead on the shore of Löngufjörur in a sparsely populated part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula on Thursday, RÚV reports. A group of American tourists on a helicopter tour made the discovery and one of them, Greta Carlson, captured a video of the shocking sight and the group also reported it to local authorities in Stykkishólmur.
Greta said that she’d never seen anything like it and noted that some of the whale carcasses showed signs of having been cut or otherwise injured. She said she wanted to document the discovery in case the pictures and video she took could be used to somehow prevent a similar incident occurring in the future.
[media-credit name=”Screenshot from RÚV / Greta Carlson” align=”alignnone” width=”609″] [/media-credit]
Marine biologist Edda Elísabet Magnúsdóttir said that there are any number of reasons that a pod of whales might accidentally swim into a dangerous area. For one thing, pilot whales are pack animals with strong social bonds, and do not easily abandon members of their pod.
Edda Elísabet also explained that there are strong tidal and seabed currents in the Löngufjörur area and that this could have made it harder for the whales to get back out to sea. Pilot whales depend on sonar for navigation, but sonar would have been quite limited in the area. That also might account for the whales getting stranded when the tide went out.