Sign of hope for stranded whales

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(CNN) — In a potentially good sign, 15 to 20 of the pilot whales that have been stranded in shallow water off Florida’s Everglades National Park have moved toward deeper water.

The outlook for dozens of the short-finned pilot whales had previously looked bleak as the whales kept circling toward the shallow water.

The whales Thursday were near the Seminole Point area in about 12 feet of water, and were moving offshore to deeper water, said Blair Mase, a marine mammal scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Calling it a “very fluid situation,” scientists continue to monitor the whales, Mase said.

Forty-one whales had remained stranded after 10 died, including four who were euthanized because they were in poor condition.

The whales are very communal and stay together, and the fact that about half of the pod was heading toward deeper water could help their chances of survival.

Wildlife officials are unsure how long the pod of whales has been stranded, or why. Fishermen spotted the whales, several of which had beached themselves, on Tuesday night in a remote area accessible only by boat off the west coast of the Everglades, park spokeswoman Linda Friar said.

Rescuers have been using five boats to create a blockade of sorts between the whales still in the water and the beach as part of the effort to keep them from beaching and simultaneously encouraging them to make their way back to the Gulf of Mexico, Friar said.

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