Dozens of short-finned pilot whales began landing in Panadura, 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Colombo on Monday afternoon, and authorities were mobilized to help them return to sea.
Locals took care of the whales with Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard officials.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA) told AFP it was the largest single whale pod stranded in a South Asian country.
Dharshani Lahandapura, director of MEPA, told AFP that “it is very rare for so many people to reach our shores,” adding that the cause of the stranding is unknown.
The rescue team worked all night with the help of the Navy, Coast Guard, lifeguards and residents.
A Sri Lankan Navy statement said, “At the request of Deputy Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Naval Commander, we used a jet ski provided by a local water sports club to bring the whales back into the sea day and night.”
The deaths of four whales are under investigation. The Navy said the whale could have been stranded after following a whale off course.
Whales are very sociable animals and travel by pod, but the cause of mass stranding is unclear.
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