EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla. (AP) — National Park Service volunteers Donna and John Buckley said they weren't optimistic that a pod of 41 stranded pilot whales would survive in shallow Florida Everglades waters. They and others had tried coaxing the animals to deeper water without success.
So the Buckleys said it was a big surprise when they discovered the whales had left the shallows Thursday, two days after they were discovered in distress.
Sometime overnight 35 of the whales had begun moving toward their natural, deep-water habitat.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials say the whales still face challenges and could turn back inshore. But officials were more optimistic that the whales might survive.
Eleven have died so far and five were unaccounted for Thursday.
A Coast Guard cutter was staying with the survivors.