Several people waded into the sea to try and save the pilot whale / SUR

Stranded pilot whale appears on a beach in Estepona

The animal reached the Los Granados beach alive and several locals tried to return it to the sea, although without success

IGNACIO LILLO MALAGA.

A young specimen of pilot whale, about two metres in length, appeared yesterday, 19 December, stranded on the Granados beach in Estepona, which caused great excitement among the residents of the local area.

The animal was still alive when it approached the shore, so a group of workers and customers from the Sonora beach bar tried to reintroduce it back into the sea.

But the animal was very weak and disoriented, and was washed back to the shore with the waves. Eventually it lost its battle and died.

Jesús Bellido, a marine biologist, identified the animal as a young pilot whale, which is actually a dolphin. When they are adults, they can reach 5 to 6 metres in length and weigh three tonnes. They are almost two metres long when born, so this was a youngster.

"If it is alone, it is difficult for them to survive. They run aground because they does not have the strength or ability to swim, and that is why they seek the shore to be calm and breathe," he said.

The expert suspects that the animal could not keep up with others due to weakness or illness, and reminded the public that if you try to return them to the sea, it should be done only once, and if it does not prove capable of swimming out to sea, it is better to leave it.

The species is threatened, according to the various international catalogues of endangered animals.