A group of beachgoers and several lifeguards came together to help a pod of pilot whales back into deeper waters after they came too close to shore in the US state of Georgia.
Nine pilot whales became stranded, and while rescuers where able to push six of them back into deeper water, three of them died, Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.
Onlookers captured the rescue on videos that have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on social media.
The footage showed groups of people trying to push several glossy black pilot whales in knee-high water away from the shallows.
Pilot whales grow seven metres long and can weigh up to three tonnes.
Clay George, a biologist with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, told the New York Times that “something went wrong” for the creatures, which normally swim 100 miles offshore.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that the group dodged a bullet and that they’re now on their way to deeper water,” Clay was cited as saying.
It is not known why whales sometimes beach themselves, but the whales travel together in pods and are known to follow a leader.