Galapagos National Park via AP
Two men struggle Sunday to save one of the 12 pilot whales that beached themselves on a Galapagos beach. It was not known if this particular whale died or was saved.
updated 3/26/2007 9:39:07 AM ET 2007-03-26T13:39:07

Rescuers managed to save five beached pilot whales by returning them to the ocean, but seven others stranded on a Galapagos Island beach died despite rescue efforts that included building makeshift pools of sea water around them.

The whales, which were 10 to 30 feet in length, came ashore late Saturday near the southern town of Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island, the largest of the Galapagos, said Rosa Leon, a spokeswoman for the Galapagos National Park.

"We succeeded in moving five whales into the open sea, three miles from the shore, which we expect will keep them from returning," she said. The other seven whales died, she said.

On Sunday, dozens of rescuers dug shallow pits around the whales and fill the pits with sea water in a bid to keep them from dehydrating.

The Galapagos Islands, 625 miles off Ecuador's Pacific coast, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 for their exotic flora and fauna, including giant tortoises, marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies.

A study of finches on the islands inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Stranded whales


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