The short-fined pilot whale’s spot began reaching shore at Panadura, 25 km (15 miles) south of the capital Colombo, on Monday afternoon, and authorities were mobilized to help them return to the sea.
Local people joined with officials from the Sri Lankan navy and coast guard to take care of the whales.
The Sri Lanka Marine Environment Protection Agency (MEPA) told AFP news agency that it was the largest flock of whales stranded in the South Asian country.
“It is very unusual for such a large number to reach our shores,” MEPA director Dharshani Lahandapura told AFP, adding that the cause of the stranding was not known.
Rescue teams worked all night with the assistance of the navy, coast guard, lifeguards and residents.
“At the request of the Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, jet skis provided by a local water sports club were used to pull whales back into the ocean day and night. “, stated the Sri Lankan Navy.
The deaths of 4 whales are under investigation. The navy says the whales may have followed a whale off course and got stranded.
Whales are highly social animals and move in pods, but the cause of the mass drying is not clear.