More than 80 dolphins die off Florida coast

False killer whales look similar to orca killer whales but are actually a type of dolphin. They typically swim in the open ocean.

Almost 100 rare false killer whales have stranded themselves off the remote coast of Southwest Florida in Everglades National Park, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Monday.

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Seventy-two whales died, nine of which had to be euthanised and 13 were "unaccounted for", the agency said. Crews continue to search for a dozen or so from a pod thought to have originally numbered about 100.

The animals live in groups of 40-100 individuals and are known to strand in large numbers. False killer whales can be found around the globe in tropical and semitropical climates, although the populations are usually wide-spread. They ranged from young calves to mature adults, which can weigh about 1,500 pounds. Rescue officials were able to reach the whales Sunday and tried to move them to deeper water, but many were deeply embedded in the mangroves, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials told The Palm Beach Post. It is the largest recorded stranding of the species in Florida's history.

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Of the 95 false killer whales stranded, 81 had died by Monday, NOAA announced.

NOAA announced the grim news on Monday afternoon. "The National Park Service are conducting aerial flyovers to assess the situation (and) make it easier for teams on the scene". She added the location was "very, very challenging".

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"Down in that area in Everglades National Park it's very shallow; very easily for even a human to get lost navigating through those waters", said marine biologist Stefanie Wolf.


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