Four whales die after being found stranded on a South Carolina beach, officials say

Four whales died Saturday after they were found on a beach in South Carolina, officials say.

The group of pilot whales was found stranded on Edisto Beach near access 36 at about 7 a.m. Saturday, and it was unclear how long they had been there, according to WCSC.

Two of the whales were adults, and the other two were juveniles, according to WCSC.

Wildlife experts were called to help the whales, but when they got there one of them was already dead, WCIV reported, and the other three had to be put down.

Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network, which responded to help the stranded whales, wrote on Facebook there is usually a reason whales strand themselves, such as injury or illness.

Pushing them back into the ocean “is only prolonging their suffering and making them vulnerable to prey. The more humane thing is to end their suffering,” the group wrote.

The group and a local veterinarian determined that the whales “were not healthy enough” to be transported for rehabilitation, the group said on Facebook, and that the best thing to do was put them down.

“These are always hard situations and decisions but sometimes better than just ‘giving them chance’ and prolonging their suffering because it makes us feel better,” the group wrote. “Think about what you would do for your sick dog.”

The town was working to remove the whales from the beach Saturday afternoon, WCIV reported, and a veterinarian will determine the cause of death.

Lauren Rust, with Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network, told WCSC that it’s unclear what caused these whales to beach themselves but that it’s common for groups to all strand themselves if one does.

She told WCSC it’s possible the two smaller whales were the larger ones’ calves, who need their mothers to survive.

Mayor Jane Darby told WCIV that a fifth whale stranded itself on the beach later that afternoon.

This comes after dozens of pilot whales stranded themselves along a Georgia beach last week, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

Bailey Aldridge is a reporter covering real-time news in North and South Carolina. She has a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.