Beached whales led out to sea off Indonesia’s Aceh but 4 die

November 14, 2017
Rescuers attempt attempt to push stranded whales back into the ocean at Ujong Kareng beach in Aceh province, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. An official said 10 whales were stranded at the beach and attracted hundreds of onlookers who posed for pictures with them. (AP Photo/Syahrol Rizal)

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — Four of 10 whales that beached off Indonesia’s Aceh province have died because of injuries and exhaustion, a fisheries official said Tuesday.

The sperm whales became stranded Monday at Ujong Kareng beach and attracted hundreds of onlookers who posed for pictures with them.

Nur Mahdi, the head of Aceh’s marine and fisheries office, said two whales that were both extensively scratched and bruised died early Tuesday while two others that were very weak died a few hours later.

He said five of the giant mammals were refloated on Monday and led out to sea by boats, but waves washed two back to shore. Fishing boats led the pair and a remaining whale out to sea on Tuesday.

Mahdi said whale pods follow a group leader and can become stranded if the leader swims too close to shore due to sickness or other reasons.

Several dozen strandings of whales, dolphins and other marine mammals are reported each year in Indonesia, an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands.

Ten pilot whales died last year when a pod of more than 30 stranded off the coast of Probolinggo district in East Java province.

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