Florida, Dec 9 (): Eleven more pilot whales supposed to be part of a pod that was deserted in the Everglades last week were found dead in the Florida Keys, national wildlife officials said. The recent death brings the total number of dead whales to 22.
The dead whales were found on Snipe Point Sunday afternoon, about six miles north of Sugarloaf Key, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official Blair Mase.
The dead pilot whales in the lower Florida Keys on Sunday were believed to be from a pod of 51 that got stranded there last week, and authorities said there are only less probabilities of finding the remaining whales alive.
The pod of 51 pilot whales were first seen deserted on Tuesday on the edge of the Florida Everglades National Park. Rescuers began their efforts Tuesday after park rangers were told that four whales were stranded. When teams arrived at the scene they discovered a much larger number.
In spite of heavy rescue efforts, ten of the whales died Wednesday and another one died on Thursday.
The U.S. Coast Guard said in a written statement, with the 11 whales found dead on Sunday, about six miles north of Sugar Loaf Key, a total of 22 have been confirmed dead.
Officials said that 29 whales remained unaccounted for ever since they were first seen alive on Friday and feared that the remaining whales may already be dead. Pilot whales, which are known to be highly social and live in an organised unit, are most vulnerable to end up in mass stranding as they are hesitant to break away from other members of their pod even in trouble.
The short-finned pilot whales are among the smaller of the whale species, with adult males reaching up to 18 feet in length and females 12 feet.