Over 150 dolphins are feared dead in what seems to be an unusual incident of mass beaching. According to BBC News, the dolphins are actually melon-headed whales — a species considered a member of the dolphin family. This incident of mass beaching happened near the town of Hokota, situated in the Ibaraki Prefecture of Japan, on a beach located around 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Tokyo, the New York Times reports. Three dolphins have been rescued, but the situation looks grim for several others.
As of this writing, frantic efforts were underway to save the dolphins. The rescue operations are being handled by the locals living in the area who have been assisted by Japanese coast guard officials. According to reports, efforts were being made to stop the dolphins’ skin from drying. Some others were seen trying to carry the mammals back into the ocean using slings. Several of the beached dolphins had grave injuries and showed deep cuts and gashes on their skins. To make things worse, some of the dolphins that they managed to release back into the ocean were again pushed back onto the beach by the advancing tide. Several of the dolphins have died and arrangements have been made to bury them on the beach itself.
A Japanese coast guard official said that he is witnessing this phenomenon for the first time in his life.
“We see one or two whales washing ashore a year, but this may be the first time to find over 100 of them on a beach,” the official told AFP.
It is still unclear what caused these animals to beach themselves. According to BBC News, these species of dolphins are usually only found in the deep waters of the ocean. It is extremely rare for them to show themselves up on the beach. Meanwhile, locals from the area confirmed that the mass beaching has occurred on a 10-kilometer stretch of the beach in Hokota.
Locals from the area were visibly upset by on seeing the animals’ plight.
“They are alive. I feel sorry for them,” a man told public broadcaster NHK.
Several dolphins were seen writhing and wriggling their way frantically in a bid to move and reach the water again. However, the waters had receded too far in, and with each passing hour, they were getting weaker. Locals added that it was difficult for them to rescue 150 animals that were on average six to nine feet long.
While this might be the biggest single case of mass beaching of dolphins that have been reported from Japan, a similar incident was reported from Japan back in 2011 as well. This case of dolphins beaching themselves is eerily similar to another phenomenon that has been noted recently. The Inquisitr reported earlier this year about several instances of young sea lion pups ending up on the beach — starving and dazed. No one has been able to explain what is causing these animals to end up on the shore.
[Photo By Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images]