Wildlife officials spent Monday rescuing a group of five whales that beached themselves on Redington Beach that morning.
Officials with Clearwater Marine Aquarium used trucks and boats to transport the whales to safe locations.
Boats took three of the whales to areas well offshore, where they were geotagged and released into open waters, according to officials.
The other two whales were transported via truck to a rehabilitation facility Clearwater Marine Aquarium runs in Tarpon Springs. They will stay there for a few days and then will also be released, the officials said.
Previously, tents were set up along the beach to assist rescue crews who were on the scene for hours, joined by dozens of onlookers, some who volunteered to help move the 1,000+ lb. whales.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Mote Marine Aquarium and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office were also involved in the effort.
The pilot whales beached themselves along the beach near 161st Street around 7 a.m.
Officials said it’s still unclear why they did this, but said common reasons for stranding include illness, intoxication and a group lacking a leader.
They said bloodwork will determine if the whales have any infectious disease, but said on the beach they displayed signs of respiratory and digestive issues.
Pilot whales generally live in deep water, about 100-150 miles offshore and do not fare well in shallow water.
Just last week, a group of pilot whales beached themselves on St. Simons Island in Georgia, according to WJCT.