Marine biologists are monitoring “satellite pings” from three of the pilot whales that beached themselves along Redington Beach on Monday. Those whales were taken on a boat out into deeper water, and now researchers are using tracking devices to monitor the whales’ location, direction and depth.
The latest data shows the whales continued swimming on their own and have made it an additional 14 miles off shore.
But even there, the marine biologists say the water is still far too shallow compared to their natural habit. They say it’s about 100 miles until the whales reach the Florida Shelf, where the water gets much deeper.
“Right now, all of them seem to be consistently heading in a southwest direction,” said NOAA biologist Laura Engleby. “That’s the right direction towards the shelf.”
But until the whales reach the deeper water, she says they could still change course and potentially head back towards shore, potentially beaching themselves again.
“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed and monitoring on a daily basis,” said Englebny.
The satellite trackers are set to only transmit back location pings sporadically to conserve battery power. The researchers are hoping they’ll be able to keep track of the whales’ locations for around 60 days.
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