Over 80 False Killer Whales Die At Everglades National Park

According to NOAA information, false killer whales usually swim in large groups.

Officials told the Miami Herald that this is the largest recorded stranding of such species in Florida.

Little is known about false killer whales, the fourth-largest member of the dolphin family, which live in warm, deep waters in all three major oceans. Blair Mase, a stranding coordinator with NOAA, told the Miami Herald that the dolphins were "deeply embedded in some of the mangroves making response efforts extremely hard".

Strandings of false killer whales are rare in the U.S., with the last occurring in 1986 when a pod of 40 swam close to Cedar Key, Florida, according to Mase. Unfortunately, nine had to be humanely euthanized.

NOAA said that response teams are now working to assess the scene, but its remote location makes it challenging to gain access.

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Males can grow to be almost 20 feet long, and the conservation website notes that their population numbers about 60,000.

It is now unclear why the massive stranding occurred.

"In the coming months biologists will try to determine why this happened by using samples collected during necropsy", NOAA Fisheries Service wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. They got their name because they resemble orcas, commonly called killer whales but they don't have the white patches orcas have. They are also found in all tropical oceans across the globe.

The dolphins were scattered along the hard-to-reach shoreline and deeply embedded in some of the mangroves, making it hard to retrieve them, said Mase, coordinator of NOAA's Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

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  • Toni Ryan