41 pilot whales trapped in the shallows
It's not looking good for a pod stuck in the Everglades' waters

Disaster lurks for a pilot whale pod trapped in a remote area of Florida's Everglades National Park.

Fishermen first spotted the whales — some of which had already beached themselves — on Tuesday night, but authorities are unsure just how long the pod has been stranded there.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The shallow inlet is no place for the deep-water mammals, which can each measure up to 20 feet. Of the 51 whales that have ended up nearly 20 miles east of their normal habitat, six were found dead and four more have been euthanized since wildlife workers began attempting to lead the pod back to deeper waters. That leaves 41 still stuck.

Rescue efforts were slated to continue on Thursday, but "we want to set the expectations low" for the pod's survival, Blair Mase, a marine mammal scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told CNN.

This is very sad. Even sadder, situations like this aren't particularly rare. Whales are very social creatures, so where several lead, the rest will follow. Two similar Florida strandings have occurred in the past three years. Strandings are such a regular occurrence off Cape Cod that rescuers there are well versed in using cranes, flat-bed trucks, and other equipment to save the animals.

By comparison, the Everglades is much more difficult to reach, and the animals have so far resisted authorities' efforts to lead the whales back out to deeper waters during high tide.

"It's a very difficult situation," Mase said.

Below, pictures of a rescue effort that may very well be doomed:

(AP Photo/National Park Service)

(AP Photo/National Park Service)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)



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