(International Herald Tribune) DAKAR, Senegal: The bodies of at least 38 whales have washed up on a Dakar beach and wildlife officials say as many as 100 swam up close to the shore. Villagers living nearby said the whales were spotted late Tuesday night, veering closer and closer to the coast as the tide came in. By Wednesday morning many were beached.
Technicians with the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental organization, said they had counted at least 38 carcasses — most larger than an adult man — strewn across a long stretch of sand.
By afternoon, as many as 60 whales had released back into the ocean. It was not immediately known what type of whales they were, but World Wildlife Fund employee Ibrahim Mat Dia said their size and coloring indicated they were either pilot whales or melon-headed whales.
Children waded into the water, trying to shoo away other whales trying to swim inland. Fishermen tied a cable to one of the beached whales and used a wooden boat to tow it out to sea.
Some people placed a roller used to move boats under the body of yet another whale and tried to push it toward the water. They gave up when they realized the animal was nearing death.
But they were able to save a pregnant whale and her calf shortly after the whale gave birth on the beach.
Dia said it was possible the whales had mistakenly followed fish into water that was too shallow for them, or that their sonar was not functioning.