More than 20 whales were found dead and rotting along a rocky coast of southern Chile, maritime officials said Friday, as they tried to determine what killed them and when. The whales, discovered beached north of the Gulf of Penas, measured about 10 meters (33 feet) long, according to officials with Chile’s national fisheries service. Officials identified them as sei whales, which are internationally protected after being hunted nearly to extinction during the middle of the 20th century.
Images showed the decaying mammals grouped together and laid out along a grass-and-rock shoreline. They were discovered by a group of foreign scientists who were conducting research in the area. “The number of dead whales exceeded 20, but we have not tallied the total,” a fisheries service source told AFP, declining to be identified. Bad weather was hampering attempts to determine exactly how many whales had died and when. MORE