MIAMI Jan 24 Biologists on Friday examined the
carcasses of 25 dead pilot whales found off the coast of
southwest Florida, collecting samples from the animals to try to
determine the cause of a recent spike in whale deaths.
Wildlife officials completed necropsies on six whales among
the group of 16 females and 9 males a day after they were
spotted by boaters near Kice Island, Florida, said Kim Amendola,
a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
The whales were part of a pod originally seen swimming in
shallow waters near the city of Naples on Sunday, prompting a
team of wildlife officials concerned about a spate of stranded
whales, to mark the animals to better identify them.
Earlier this week, eight other whales were found dead after
they swam into shallow waters near Fort Myers, Florida.
The group of 25 whales were found to be thin and showed no
signs of having interacted with humans, Amendola said.
Biologists have said the whales' close-knit social structure
may be playing a role in the deaths. Pilot whales are a social,
deep-water species. They live in pods of 20 to 90 whales and
typically will not leave ailing or dead members behind.
The bonds are so strong that dead whales have to be cleared
from beaches before others swimming in shallow waters can be
guided out to sea.
(Reporting by Kevin Gray and Zachary Fagenson; Editing by Toni