At least 10 whales die, more set to perish after mass stranding off Indonesia (PHOTOS)

Indonesian soldiers, policeman and resident work to remove a dead whale stranded on the coast of Pesisir beach in Probolinggo, Indonesia, June 16, 2016. © Antara Foto / Zabur Karuru
The mass stranding of 32 short-finned pilot whales on the Indonesian island of Java has claimed the lives of 10 of the mammals.

Despite a mammoth rescue operation which initially succeeded in moving many of the whales back out to sea, some of the animals beached again overnight and died in an estuary at Probolinggo, East Java province.

According to The Jakarta Post another five of the stranded whales are expected to perish.

One of the whales which had returned towards shore was successfully rescued again, joining the others that were saved thanks to the efforts of hundreds of fishermen and maritime officials.

Make-shift gurneys made from tarpaulin as well as ropes were used to contain the animals before they were dragged back out to sea. Locals helped to bury the whales that didn’t make it.

It is not clear what caused the whales to beach in the first place, but it’s not uncommon for sick or dying whales to seek out the shoreline with other members of the pod following to help out before getting stranded themselves.

Head of the local maritime and fisheries office, Dedy Isfandi, told AFP: "At first there were just one or two whales swimming near the shore, and the nature of whales is that if they are sick they will come near the shore.”

"But whales have such high social interaction that when one fell ill, they approached the sick one to swim back to sea. When the tide fell all of them were trapped.”

An autopsy will take place to determine the whales’ cause of death and local officials have not ruled out accidental poisoning or a rise in sea temperatures as crucial factors.

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The global status of the species is not known and therefore they are not listed as endangered.
This is not the first time large aquatic animals have beached themselves in the region.

Killer whales and whale sharks have been found in similar circumstances in recent years.

Back in March 12 long-finned pilot whales died after becoming stranded south of Perth in Australia while last month in Mexico 24 whales died after beaching themselves.