Nearly 150 dolphins feared dead in Japan despite rescue bid

Residents attempt to save melon-headed whales beached on the shore of Hokota city, northeast of Tokyo on April 10, 2015 (AFP Photo/Toshifumi Kitamura)

Hokota (Japan) (AFP) – Rescuers were forced to abandon efforts to save around 150 melon-headed whales that stranded on a beach in Japan on Friday, after frantically trying all day to save them.

 As darkness fell, local officials in Hokota, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Tokyo, said they had been able to save only three of the 149 animals that had beached and that the rescue effort had been called off.

The rest of the creatures, a member of the dolphin family usually found in the deep ocean, had either died or were dying, they said.

“It was becoming dark and too dangerous to continue the rescue work at this beach, where we could not bring heavy equipment,” said an unnamed Hokota city official.

“Many people volunteered to rescue them but the dolphins became very, very weak.”

“Only three of them have been successfully returned to the sea, as far as we can confirm,” he added.

Locals and coastguard teams had battled through the day to save the animals, trying to stop their skin from drying out as they lay on the sand.

Others were carried in slings back towards the ocean.

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