Bodies of at Least 20 Whales Wash up on Senegal's Coast

At least 20 whales have washed up on a Dakar beach; 100 swam to shore.

May 21, 2008 — -- The bodies of at least 20 whales have washed up on a Dakar beach and residents say as many as 100 swam right up to the shore.

Villagers living nearby said the whales were spotted late Tuesday night, veering closer and closer to the shore. By Wednesday morning many of them were beached. An Associated Press photographer counted at least 20 bodies, each the size of an adult man. It was not immediately known what type of whales they were.

Children waded into the water, trying to shoo away other whales trying to swim ashore. Fishermen tied a cable to one of the beached whales and used a wooden boat to tow it out to sea.

Some people placed a roller used to move boats under the body of another whale and tried to push it toward the water. But they gave up when they realized the whale was nearing death.

When it was clear that many were dead, children began playing with the bodies, jumping up and down on the carcasses and using them as slides. Some villagers began cutting pieces off one of the dead whales, saying they planned to use the blubber for massage oil.

Officials could not immediately be reached for comment. People living near the beach said they had never experienced anything of this kind before.