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Scientists investigate Brazil's beached whales

Scientists investigate Brazil's beached whales
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Wildlife authorities in Brazil are investigating why dozens of whales have been stranded on the country’s beaches in recent months.

Most have died before they could be moved back out to sea.

The majority have been humpback whales whose population has been steadily growing. A small number of right whales – the rarest of the large species – have also been washed up.

Experts are divided over the cause.

“It’s a record number and we still don’t know the reason why there are so many beachings,” said biologist Lupercio Barbosa.

But at least one other scientist believes there is a simple explanation.

“It’s natural,” said Mauricio Tavares. “As the population grows there are more chances of finding dead animals.”

Some of the mammals have shown signs of injury, suggesting they have been struck by boats or have got caught up in fishing nets.

Sightings are common between July and October, when the whales look for warmer waters in which to mate and feed their young.