Sri Lankans rush to rescue beached whales

A team of Sri Lankans raced to save a pod of about 100 whales beached off the country's southwestern coast on Monday (November 2).

The short-finned pilot whales began to beach themselves just before dusk on at Panadura, south of the capital Colombo.

Upul Ranjith is a fisherman who spotted the whales:

"I don't know why this happened. It has never happened before. This is the first time I have seen this. All of them will die by morning."

Men and boys waded into the surf trying in vain to push and pull the whales back out to sea, ignoring a 24-hour coronavirus curfew.

Officials from the coastguard and navy also arrived to help with the rescue, which went on late into the night.

But by morning it was feared that they would likely not survive.

It's not clear what caused them to be stranded.

The reason why whales beach themselves is largely a mystery to marine scientists. However, whales, which travel in pods, sometimes beach themselves as they follow a leader and will gather around an injured or distressed whale.

Just two months ago several hundred whales also beached themselves in Australia, one of the largest mass strandings ever recorded.