Stranded whales in Eastham briefly refloated before turning back to shore

A group of six pilot whales became stranded on Monday. One calf reportedly died overnight.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare sent a team of rescuers to help six pilot whales that were stranded in Eastham. IFAW

Rescue teams worked Tuesday to save a group of pilot whales that were stranded on a beach in Eastham the day before. 

Success appeared to be in hand Tuesday afternoon when most of the whales were moved back into the ocean, but several of them turned back around and became stranded again, a spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare told The Boston Globe.

Six whales were seen swimming close to the shore near Sunken Meadow Beach on Monday. The whales became stranded around 4:45 p.m., and were examined by an IFAW team. Two of the animals were tagged. 


On Tuesday morning, responders found that one of the whales, a calf, had died overnight. Five remained alive. 

Video footage taken by CBS Boston on Tuesday showed teams working to save the animals by draping them in blankets and administering IV fluids. 

The largest of the whales was estimated to weigh almost 4,000 pounds, or two tons, an IFAW representative told CBS Boston. 

Once high tide arrived Tuesday afternoon, rescue teams were able to move the whales back into the water using flotation devices, CBS Boston reported. A harbormaster then pulled the animals further out to sea. 

The five whales were refloated around 4 p.m. Tuesday, but four came back to the shore, the IFAW told the Globe.

“The reality is that we cannot celebrate a success yet this evening,” Misty Niemeyer, a rescue coordinator for IFAW, said in a statement to the Globe. “One animal is now offshore, but the others did not follow.”

Rescue teams paused their work around 5 p.m., and plan to reevaluate the situation on Wednesday, the Globe reported.

“The team is exhausted,” Niemeyer told the paper. “Large animals can be quite dangerous to work around, and it’s for our health as well as tomorrow’s continued efforts that we need to call it a day today.”


Anyone that finds a stranded marine mammal on Cape Cod or in southeastern Massachusetts is urged to contact IFAW’s marine mammal rescue hotline at 508-743-9548. 


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com