Lanka rescues 120 whales

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has saved some 120 pilot whales in a gruelling overnight rescue involving the navy, officials said on Tuesday, after the island nation’s biggest stranding.
Three pilot whales and one dolphin died of injuries following the mass beaching on Monday on the country’s western coast at Panadura some 25 kilometres south of the capital Colombo.
A handful of whales had started beaching in the early afternoon and their numbers swelled to more than 100 by dusk, overwhelming local volunteers, resident Pathum Hirushan said.
“Some of the fishermen from the area tried to push back the whales. The sea was rough and the waves would bring them back to shore,” Hirushan said.
“It was very tiring, but later the navy came in with their boats and worked through the night.”
The navy and the coastguard, as well as dozen of volunteers, were able to move the other mammals into deeper waters with the aid of small patrol craft by dawn on Tuesday, navy spokesman Indika de Silva said.
Volunteers had come forward to help with the rescue despite the region being under a days-long lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pilot whales — which can grow up to six metres long and weigh a tonne — are highly social.