A disaster was in the making on Monday when at least 120 short-finned pilot whales came ashore in Sri Lanka and wound up being stranded. It was the biggest mass stranding in the country’s history, but fortunately, Sri Lanka’s navy and local volunteers were able to save all but four of the pilot whales.
The rescue teams worked day and night, managing to push most of the whales back into the sea. That’s no easy task. Pilot whales can grow up to six meters (20ft) and weigh more than 1 ton. Luckily, a local water sports club provided the rescuers with jet skis to help pull the whales back into the ocean.
Pilot whales are highly social creatures and tend to travel in pods. Although the phenomenon has been studied for decades, scientists still don’t know why groups of whales get stranded on the beach.