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Georgia Beachgoers Keep Pilot Whales from Stranding on Shore

A state biologist says beachgoers in Georgia helped keep about 30 pilot whales from stranding themselves on the shore.

Clay George with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says the whales showed up Tuesday afternoon off the beach at St. Simons Island.

Credit Bobby Haven /The Brunswick News via AP
Georgia Department of Natural Resources personnel and beachgoers struggle to keep a short-fin pilot whale from crashing into the seawall on St. Simons Island, Ga., Tuesday, July16, 2019. Dozens of pilot whales beached themselves on a Georgia shore and most were rescued by authorities and onlookers who pulled the animals further into the water.

Three whales beached themselves and died. But George says onlookers helped authorities wade into the water to prevent most of the whales from reaching shore.

George said harbor pilots Wednesday morning spotted the whales in the nearby shipping channel, where he hoped they would follow the tide out to sea.

George says the whales were likely confused as they normally stay more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) offshore. The American Cetacean Society says pilot whales are often involved in mass strandings partly due to their social nature.