MARCO ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Teams of biologists are investigating the deaths of 25 pilot whales in the shallow waters off southwest Florida.
Necropsies began Friday morning on 16 males and nine females found on Kice Island. Boaters found the carcasses Thursday.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service say the whales were part of a pod first spotted in the area Sunday. State wildlife officials marked some of the whales that had temporarily stranded near Naples, and the markings helped identify the marine mammals found near Marco Island.
The whales were found two days after eight other pilot whales died near Lover’s Key State Park, about 40 miles north. Biologists say pilot whales are prone to mass strandings because they form close-knit pods that won’t leave a sick whale behind.