KASHIMA, Japan, March 6 (UPI) -- About 200 people took part in a rescue attempt of 52 melon-headed whales stranded on the shore in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture, in eastern Japan.
Authorities and volunteers, including staff from the Oarai Aquarium in the same prefecture, were able to return 22 of the whales to the sea Saturday, but 30 of the beached animals died, Kyodo News reported.
It took rescuers about eight hours to return the whales to the ocean. The dead whales were buried on the nearby shore.
Melon-headed whales are regularly seen in the area in the early spring and they might have been drawn into the shallow waters while following food, said Masayuki Shimada, chief of the marine animal exhibition section of the Oarai Aquarium.