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100 pilot-whales saved by Sri Lankan rescuers after being stranded

This Monday, 100 whales have been put back into the water after an unusual stranding on Sri Lanka’s beaches. The pilot whales have been found at Panadura, 15 miles from Colombo. In less than an hour, more than a hundred pilot-whales were stranded on the coast and some of them didn’t survive their injuries.

Those animals belong to the cetacean family. They are called “pilot-whales” because the group is always piloted by a leader. Despite the impressive measurements of these marine animals (which can reach 6 meters long and weigh a tonne), residents, rescue teams and the navy managed to put them back into the sea using a small patrol boat and jet skis. The local police chief, Sanjaya Irasinghe said:

“With the help of local residents we are trying to pull them back towards the ocean. But they keep getting washed ashore. We are getting help from the navy to rescue these whales”.

This video shows the rescue of stranded pilot-whales by locals. It took several hours to pull them back towards deeper waters.


Members of the National Marine Environment Protection Authority (Mepa), who have also helped to rescue the whales said this event was the largest whale stranding in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities feared that this situation would turn into a disaster like in Tasmania, where nearly 400 pilot-whales washed ashore and only 110 of them could be rescued. According to Mepa’s chief, this event may look the same as what happened in Tasmania.

“It is very unusual for such a large number to reach our shores. We think this is similar to the mass stranding in Tasmania in September.”


Pilot-whales are very social and always travel in group. Picture by Bertrand Borie from UNSPLASH

Scientists have many theories to explain this uncommon phenomenon, many studies have been done over the past 10 years, but the causes of this massive stranding still remain unknown. The navy said that the group of whales have maybe followed a tired and lost whale, out of its way and then became stranded.

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