Rescue Attempt for 150 Beached Dolphins in Japan

April 10, 2015. Rescuers were forced to abandon their efforts to save 149 dolphins that were stranded on a beach in Japan after working tirelessly all day to help the creatures.

As darkness fell on the beach in Hokota, around 60 miles northeast of Tokyo, coastguards and officials called off the rescue operation after only managing to save three of the 149 melon-headed dolphins that had beached.

The rest of the animals had either died or were dying, they said.

‘It was becoming dark and too dangerous to continue the rescue work at this beach, where we could not bring heavy equipment,’ a Hokota city official said.

‘Many people volunteered to rescue them but the dolphins became very, very weak.’

‘Only three of them have been successfully returned to the sea, as far as we can confirm,’ he added.

Volunteers from local communities had joined forces with coastguards to try and save the dolphins, pouring water on them to stop their skins drying out.

They also used slings to carry some back into the water, after they were seen early on Friday morning on the beach writhing in pain.

But despite desperate efforts to help the melon-headed whales, some were being pushed back onto the beach by the tide soon after being released.

The creatures are usually found deep in the sea but have mysteriously beached about 60 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Television footage showed several animals had been badly cut, and many had deep gashes on their skin.

Speaking earlier today a coastguard official said they are aware a number of the sea creatures have died.

‘We see one or two whales washing ashore a year, but this may be the first time we have found over 100 of them on a beach, he added.

A Hokota city official said they had counted 149 dolphins, revising an earlier figure of 130. Three had been successfully returned to the sea by the late afternoon, he added.

The pod of dolphins was stretched out along a roughly 10 kilometre-long stretch of beach in Hokota, Ibaraki, where they were found by locals early on Friday morning.

While the reason for the beaching was unclear, Tadasu Yamadao, a researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science, said the dolphins might have got lost.

He explained: ‘Sonar waves the dolphins emit might have been absorbed in the shoals, which could cause them to lose their sense of direction.’

Melon-headed whales, also known as electra dolphins, are relatively common in Japanese waters and can grow to be two-to-three meters (six-to-nine feet) long.

In 2011, about 50 melon-headed whales beached themselves in a similar area.

The dolphin rescue that took place on Friday was a stark contract to the Japan’s reputation towards its sealife, as the country continues to hunt minke and pilot whales despite international criticism.

It has never made any secret of the fact that meat from the animals is consumed.

Japan also defies international opinion with the annual slaughter of hundreds of dolphins in a bay near the southern whaling town of Taiji.

The killing was brought to worldwide attention with the Oscar-winning documentary ‘The Cove’.

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Categories: Dolphins, Noise Pollution

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