LEE COUNTY, Fl. - Scientists are performing necropsies on 8 pilot whales that beached themselves off the coast. Biologists are hoping to learn what may have caused the whales to come so close to shore to begin with.
Florida Wildlife Commission law enforcement officials went back out over the water Wednesday by air and sea. Mote Marine says they didn't spot any more whales. They say the search by air is completed but that FWC will continue to search by boat over the next couple of days.
Meanwhile, field necropsies were done to 6 of the dead pilot whales in an area of Lovers Key. Liz Stratton with NOAA says "it didn't show anything that really gave us any clues as to what happened here unfortunately that's something that happens a lot its not always an obvious cause."
Stratton says the biologists are working on different possibilities and theories as to why the pilot whales stranded themselves in the Estero Bay. She says hopefully as time goes on and tests are done they'll have more information.
Gretchen Lovewell, a biologist with Mote Marine says "the animals were all quit thin, some were emaciated, so they probably had not been feeding well." She then explained that's because they're not in their normal habitat.
Lovewell says biologists are looking for any indications of disease to different viruses, potential toxins by doing the necropsies.
Jan Bachrach of Fort Myers says she thinks biologists will be able to get an answer as to why the pilot whales stranded themselves by doing a necropsy. She was one of dozens of people who stopped by the Lovers Key boat ramp Wednesday hoping to get a glimpse of the whales. Bachrach says "we don't get whales in here very often, I know in the past few years we've had occasionally, but to get a stranding like this is highly unusual."
One thing scientists were able to tell in the necropsies done Wednesday is the age and sex of the 8 dead whales. Stratton says 5 of them were males. 3 of them were adults, 2 of them were sub adults. 2 others were females, one of which was pregnant, and the other unknown.
Stratton says it could take weeks to months to find out why the pilot whales died.