Around 150 dolphins beach in Japan
Around 150 melon-headed whales, a member of the dolphin family usually found in the deep ocean, beached in Japan on Friday, sparking frantic efforts by locals and coastguards to save them.
Rescuers were battling to stop the creatures' skin from drying out as they lay on a beach about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Tokyo, while some were being carried in slings back towards the ocean.
Television footage showed several animals from the large pod had been badly cut, and many had deep gashes on their skin.
An AFP journalist at the scene said that, despite efforts to get the dolphins into the water, some were being pushed back onto the beach by the tide soon after being released.
A number of the creatures had died, he said, and were being buried.
"We see one or two whales washing ashore a year, but this may be the first time we have found over 100 of them on a beach," a coastguard official told AFP.
A Hokota city official said they had counted 149 dolphins, revising an earlier figure of 130. Some had died, he said, but by late afternoon, three had been successfully returned to the sea.
The pod was stretched out along a roughly 10 kilometre-long stretch of beach in Hokota, Ibaraki, where they were found by locals early Friday morning.
Several animals were writhing in a futile effort to move themselves on the sand, although as the day wore on they were clearly becoming weaker.
"They are alive. I feel sorry for them," a man told public broadcaster NHK, as others ferried buckets of seawater to the stranded animals and poured it over them.
While the reason for the beaching was unclear, Tadasu...