The British Virgin Islands government says its Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour has confirmed that the removal process has begun for the over 50 Shortfin pilot whales that have died on the island of Anegada.
They were discovered over the weekend.
The pod of whales estimated to be some 150 were seen by observers in the area. The spatial spread of the stranding was scattered across remote pockets around the eastern end of Anegada.
To date, 17 whales that were found entangled within the prop roots within the mangrove forest and conch mounts were towed out at sea.
The 30 to 40 whales that were beached on the sand were buried. The task of removal is estimated to be completed by Wednesday, July 6.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour with the assistance from representatives from the non-profit organisations (NGO) Association of Reef Keepers and Beyond the Reef, along with volunteers from the Anegada community, collected genetic tissue samples and morphometric data from 39 whales and will be sent out of the Territory for further analysis.
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Honourable Melvin M. Turnbull stated: “We are doing everything possible to get the area prepared for the enjoyment of locals and visitors so that they can resume recreational activities within the area. Moving forward, the Ministry will be organising a local stranding network, working alongside our local NGO partners for clear and concise communication which will result in quicker mobilisation of all members involved.”
Marine Biologist, Argel Horton from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour stated: “It’s a tragic situation, one which we all can learn from. From the genetic samples collected, we would be able to learn more about the deep-water mammals that do not often venture into shallow waters. We will determine the gender, stomach content, age and so much more. We urge the public once again to notify the Ministry of all marine mammals that passes through the area. The earlier we learn about possible stranding events, the better as we can mobilise our team and partners and act quickly which may save their lives.”