Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
Over 50 Shortfin pilot whales have died on the East End of Anegada and persons are urged not to attempt to move the stranded whales from the shore. The pod of whales was estimated to be some 150 observed in the area.
Marine Biologist in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Ms. Argel Horton said, “Mass stranding in whales usually occurs in highly social species such as the pilot whales that have been stranded in Anegada over the past few days. They have a herding instinct, meaning that the entire group will most likely stick together even if one is sick or damaged, ultimately leading to the entire pod to strand while trying to support that one. Even if healthy whales are removed from the beached area, they usually return to the shore, as the unhealthy whales will keep calling for help.”
Ms. Horton urges residents to be calm and not attempt to drag or pull beached whales out to open ocean as it can cause more harm than getting them to safety as sharks could be in a frenzy state and waiting to attack. She added, “Unfortunately, survival rates are very low for beached whales and the BVI does not have the captive facilities to nurse giant injured mammals.”
The Ministry along with assistance from local non-profit organisations, Association of Reef Keepers and Beyond the Reefs, will collect tissue samples from as many dead whales which will possibly help to determine the cause of this mass stranding.
The public is urged to stay out of the water around the dead whales and to notify the Ministry of any more possible sightings of strandings in the Territory.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour continues to administer the natural resources of the Territory in a manner that ensures long term sustainability.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Photos 1, 2, 3: Photos of stranded whales on Anegada
(Photo credit: Provided by Marine Biologist Mervin Hastings)