Dozens of whales die after washing ashore in India

Dozens of small whales die after washing ashore on southern India coast

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

This file photo shows whales lying on the beach in a mass stranding on the west coast of the remote Indian Andaman islands

Dozens of whales have died after stranding themselves on a southern Indian beach, a forestry official said Tuesday, with local fishermen struggling to save others.

The pod of more than 50 small whales started beaching themselves on Monday afternoon along a 15-kilometre (9-mile) stretch of coast near Tiruchendur on India's southernmost tip.

"It's very strange and we are examining the whales. We found some of the whales are still alive and struggling for their lives," said local forest officer S.A. Raju.

Raju said he and his team were seeking help from the district administration to try to rescue those still breathing.

Fishermen and others were attempting to push those whales back into the water, according to the Press Trust of India and other local media, which put the number of stranded animals at more than 100.

The whales were up to 15 feet (4.5 metres) long and Raju said they were trying to determine the type. Local media quoted other officials as saying they were fin whales and calves.

Fishermen raised the alarm after the whales starting coming ashore.

"On Monday evening there were more than a dozen whales beached at many places on the shore," said S. Thiraviyam, a resident of the town of Manapad.

The southern tip of India is close to major shipping trade routes.