Large Whale Beached in Nicaragua, Locals Help

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A massive whale, thought to be a humpback, beached itself on the shores of Nicaragua's southern coast Friday. Locals and tourists tried to intervene, and push it back out to sea, but were unsuccessful by the time the sun was setting.

According to Mario Rodriguez, the Nicaraguan Environment Ministry's delegate stationed in the region, the female whale, estimated to be roughly 60 feet long, came ashore Friday morning at Popoyo beach, which is situated near the town of Tola, approximately 70 miles south of Managua.

Over 50 locals and tourists spent Friday trying to push the cetacean back out to sea, but became exhausted as night fell. Authorities and environmental officials arrived on scene to discuss a realistic plan of moving the whale into deeper waters.

Here is a clip of the attempted rescue:

The rescue effort continued into Saturday morning, though there is no word on the present state of progress.

While the Pacific region of the southern coast of Nicaragua hosts droves of whales and dolphins this time of year, research suggests that human activity contributes to the whales coming ashore.

Experts believe that pollution, shipping noise and, in certain instances, military sonar, have contributed to a rise in frequency of whales beaching themselves. Red tides, shark attacks, cases of pneumonia, injuries sustained from collisions with seafaring vessels have also been suggested as possible causes. Shifts in the Earth's magnetic field have also been researched.

Humpback whales are found in all of the world's oceans, and migrate roughly 16,000 miles annually. Adult humpbacks average between 39-52 feet long, and can weigh 40 tons. The species feeds primarily in northern waters during the summer, and then travels south in the winter to breed, while living off stored fat reserves.

Once almost hunted to extinction, population gains have been since protective laws were put into effect in 1966. The world humpback whale population is presently estimated to be roughly 80,000.