Photos: Pilot Whales Beach in West Iceland

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Photos: Pilot Whales Beach in West Iceland

Up to 100 pilot whales swam into the harbor at Rif in Snæfellsnes, West Iceland, on Saturday. Attempts were made by local residents to direct the whales back out to sea but around ten whales died.

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Photos: Courtesy of Stefán Ingvar Guðmundsson.

Around 200 people—both locals and tourists—gathered on the beach yesterday afternoon to view the dead whales, with some people cutting the meat from the carcasses to take home, ruv.is reports.

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However, Róbert Arnar Stefánsson, biologist at the West Iceland Institute of Natural History, says that proper procedures were not followed when the whales drifted into the harbor.  

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According to Róbert, the chief veterinary surgeon should decide on the right path of action and whether to kill or try to save the whales. He points out that a rifle should be used to kill the whales if they cannot be saved and that if the animals lie motion-free that does not necessarily mean that they are dead as they usually only breathe once per minute.

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Róbert told ruv.is that it is difficult to know whether it would have been possible to save the whales but that using knives to cut the meat would have been very painful if the whales had still been alive.

It is not yet known why the whales swam into the harbor. “They were clearly distressed and frightened,” he said.

Róbert warns against pregnant women and those with underlying diseases eating the meat due to high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

ZR