Eleven more whales that are believed to be from a pod that was left stranded in shallow waters of Everglades National Park last week were found dead in the lower Florida Keys Sunday, officials said.
The whales were spotted around 1 p.m. on Snipe Point about six miles north of Sugarloaf Key by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Blair Mase said.
Mase said crews were heading out to Snipe Point Sunday afternoon to survey the area and would return Monday to try to determine the cause of the deaths.
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"We expected this may happen," Mase said, adding that the whales were not showing evidence of trauma.
Earlier, officials said crews were standing down in their search for the pilot whales after aerial surveys of the area where the whales had been spotted turned up nothing Saturday.
A total of 51 whales were discovered stranded Tuesday by fishing guides near Highland Beach, which is the western boundary of Everglades National Park in Monroe County on the Gulf coast.
When park rangers responded, they found six whales dead, and another four had to be euthanized, officials said. NOAA and the National Park Service worked with the Coast Guard to try to get the rest of the whales away from shore and into deeper waters.
On Thursday, it was reported that 35 whales were spotted swimming into deeper waters several miles north of the original stranding site. By Friday, a pod of whales was reported swimming closer to shore, but on Saturday no whales were spotted.
Mase said a total of 22 whales are dead and the status of the rest was unknown. She said it's possible more could end up stranded.
The stranding is not uncommon in Florida. In 2012, more than 20 pilot whales beached themselves in Fort Pierce, and just five were rescued.
Pilot whales are the most common to end up in mass strandings because of their cohesive nature.