A slow-moving marine tragedy is unfolding in the Florida Everglades, where 10 pilot whales are dead and 41 more are stranded in shallow water, reports NBC Miami. Rescuers are trying desperately to coax the whales back to the Gulf of Mexico, but they'd have to make it 20 miles over sandbars and sand flats. It "does not look good," says a marine scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports CNN. "We want to set the expectation low because the challenges are very, very difficult."
Pilot whales are known for keeping "close-knit social groups," notes AP, which helps explain why such group strandings occur. The whales are now in a remote western part of Everglades National Park, swimming in about 3 feet of water. It's unclear when they got there, but scientists are watching for signs of dehydration and malnutrition. Six of the whales, slightly bigger than dolphins, were found dead, and scientists euthanized four others today. "I don't think we have a lot of time," says the NOAA official.