Rescuers have been forced to abandon their efforts to save around 150 melon-headed whales (members of the dolphin family) that became stranded on a beach in Japan, after working frantically to try all day to save them.
Meanwhile the mass beaching has fueled fears of a repeat of a seemingly unrelated event in the country, the devastating 2011 undersea earthquake that killed around 19,000 people.
RT reports: Videos from the scene showed rescuers trying to release the dolphins back into the ocean, but the tide washed the weak animals back onto the beach. Photos revealed that some were badly cut and had deep gashes.
“They are alive. I feel sorry for them,” a volunteer told NHK TV channel.
The reason for the mass beaching has not yet been established. Tadasu Yamadao, a researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science suggested that the dolphins might have got confused and lost.
“Sonar waves the dolphins emit might have been absorbed in the shoals, which could cause them to lose their sense of direction,” Yamadao told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
However, social media users recalled a similar incident occurred a week before the March 11, 2011 earthquake that resulted in a devastating tsunami that killed tens of thousands of people. About 50 electra dolphins were washed ashore in a similar area on March 3, 2011.