About 50 whales were found dead Wednesday after they beached for a second time in Chiba Prefecture, despite an earlier attempt to redirect them to the sea, an official said.
The dead whales were among a pod of about 70 melon-headed whales, which resemble dolphins, that had first beached themselves in Ichinomiya early Tuesday morning, said Ichinomiya official Mieko Ishii.
Surfers and local residents had helped return the whales to sea, but by Wednesday morning the pod had run itself back up on the shore.
Ishii said about 50 whales were found dead, while the remaining 20 — each measuring about 2 meters long — were transported to a relatively calm fishing port and would be released into the sea at a later date.
Experts were to examine some of the dead mammals to try to learn the cause of death, while the remaining will be buried in the town, Ishii said.
The whales resemble dolphins and usually inhabit only deep water. It was not immediately known why such a large number beached at one time, Ishii said.