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Pilot whales strand on Iceland beach in group of 50 or more

Some dozens of long-finned pilot whales lay dead on a remote beach in Iceland as they were discovered by tourists sightseeing in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland aboard a helicopter, Thursday July 18, 2019. The whales were concentrated in one spot on the beach, many partially covered by sand. (David Schwarzhans via AP)

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Tourists and a pilot on a helicopter sightseeing tour of Iceland have found dozens of dead whales on a remote beach in Iceland.

David Schwarzhans, a pilot for Reykjavík Helicopters, said he and his passengers counted 50 long-finned pilot whales washed up on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland on Thursday.

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Schwarzhans said “there might have been more. Some were already buried in sand.” He says the whales were concentrated in one spot and described it as “a very sad scene.”

The whales are believed to have swum ashore at the same time and died of dehydration.

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The pilot whale is notorious for stranding in mass numbers, for reasons that are not entirely understood.

Last year, locals got a large group of whales to turn away from a spot on the opposite side of the peninsula.

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