81 whales die off South Florida coast

(Photo: Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network)

FLORIDA (WFLA) – 81 false killer whales have died after stranding themselves off the South Florida coast.

NOAA announced the grim news Monday afternoon.

The agency initially reported that 95 false killer whales were stranded in South Florida. Then on Monday afternoon, NOAA Fish Southeast tweeted that 81 whales had died and also said the whales were at a remote location off of Hog Key in the Everglades.

One whale was seen alive and 13 others are unaccounted for, NOAA Fish Southeast said.

The National Park Service has closed the area around the whale stranding location. NPS is asking that aircraft not fly over the area and that boats stay away from the area.

NOAA is responding to the massive stranding, which was first discovered on Saturday afternoon.

Many other agencies are helping with the response effort including, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of Florida, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Geological Survey.

False killer whales are large members of the dolphin family. They weigh about 1,500 pounds and are 15 to 20 feet long, according to NOAA Fisheries. They are usually found in groups of 10 to 20. False killer whales are known to strand in large groups.

False killer whales are found in Hawaii, along the entire West Coast of the U.S. and from the Mid-Atlantic coastal states and southward, according to NOAA Fisheries.