LEE COUNTY, Fl.- 8 pilot whales have died after getting stranded near Lover's Key on Monday. Wildlife officials euthanized 4 of them, the others died naturally.
The 8 dead pilot whales were part of a pod of 14 first spotted Monday morning in the area.
Two of the mammals that were euthanized were taken out of the water Monday night. They were transported to St. Petersburg Tuesday for a necropsy.
The rest of the pod that is dead was taken to an area at the State Park where biologists will perform field necropsies to find out what was wrong with them. Afterwards, the 6 pilot whales will be buried in a wooded area where they will naturally decompose.
Wildlife officials used a crane to lift the large pilot whales out of the water at the Lovers Key Boat Ramp. The whales were then put in the back of a pick-up truck to be taken to the necropsy site.
Scientists are still trying to figure out what is drawing them so close to our shores. They say it could be because one of them are sick and about to die. Biologist say the mammals have a tight social structure and stick together.
Dr. Erin Fougeres, a Marine Mammal Biologist with NOAA, says the mammals will be tested for diseases to see if that is what killed them. She tell WINK News there has been an outbreak of the Morbillivirus in dolphins along the east coast killing 1,000 of them. The Morbillivirus is like the flu and is fatal. Mammals pass it to one another by rubbing against each other.
Dr. Fougeres says it could take weeks if not months to get results back from the necropsies.