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Fate of stranded Florida whales unclear

Published on Dec 7, 2013 6:16 AM
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Vultures and dead pilot whales that beached themselves and became stranded in Everglades National Park, are seen on the southwestern Florida coast on Dec 5, 2013. The fate of some 40 stranded whales off Florida was unclear on Friday, with officials saying they had lost track of two dozen but were hopeful these had swum to safety. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI (AFP) - The fate of some 40 stranded whales off Florida was unclear on Friday, with officials saying they had lost track of two dozen but were hopeful these had swum to safety.

Twenty-four of the mammals were unaccounted for, Ms Blair Mase of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told reporters, calling the development "encouraging". We are "hoping they are out to sea", she said in a conference call.

But, she added, that was "not certain".  Eleven of the pilot whales have died since the mysterious mass stranding in a remote area off the United States (US) state's Everglades National Park was first reported on Tuesday, with rescuers racing against time to save the rest.

Of those that perished, four had to be euthanized after they became unable to breathe, hydrate and feed in the shallow waters less than 0.9 metres deep off Highland Beach.

 
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