Danielle LeVee, Global Animal

A pod of 26 pilot whales stranded themselves off the east coast of Scotland between Anstruther and Pittenween on Saturday, September 1. In stranding situations, rescuers only have twelve hours to get the whales back into deep water before their internal organs begin to fail.

Reacting swiftly, the Fife Coastguard, Fire Brigade, British Drivers Marine Life Rescue team, and other local volunteers were able to rescue ten whales. Oddly, on the same day, 22 pilot whales beached themselves in Florida, sadly only five survived. Reasons as to why these highly intelligent, social animals swim into shallow waters and strand themselves is unclear; however, scientists have theorized that a pod of whales sometimes come to shore because one is sick or injured, or that their use of echolocation is jeopardized by local topography or military ship sonar.

If you see a beached whale, contact the local marine mammals stranding network, wildlife personnel, or police immediately. While waiting for help, prevent the whale from overheating by digging holes for its flippers where water can be poured to wet the animal down. Do not cover the animal’s blowhole.

Watch the video below to learn more about the beached whales off the coast of Scotland and the heroic efforts made by local volunteers to help.