Almost 100 rare false killer whales have stranded themselves off the remote coast of Southwest Florida in Everglades National Park, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Monday.
According to NOAA, this large of a stranding is a rare occurrence and is the largest mass stranding of false killer whales in the United States.
On Saturday, officials found 95 of them stranded near the western boundary of Everglades National Park, north of Highland Beach. The website notes one "extreme case of a mass stranding of more than 800 individuals". Females reach lengths of 15 feet and males are nearly 20 feet.
Seventy-two dolphins died on their own and another eight had to be euthanized by rescuers, NBC Miami reported.
The false killer whale is the fourth-largest dolphin and the species is listed as endangered.
False killer whales are not actually all that closely related to their famed animal brethren, the killer whale. Most were stranded and found dead on the Hog Key beach. The animals also are known to strand in large groups.
In this case, there is still hope for about a dozen false killer whales that remain stranded in the area.
Efforts to herd the animals into deeper water were unsuccessful, as the mammals had become deeply embedded in the mangroves, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
"Down in that area in Everglades National Park it's very shallow; very easily for even a human to get lost navigating through those waters", said marine biologist Stefanie Wolf.
Authorities have closed off the National Park near where the whales were stranded.