According to reports approximately 150 dolphins beached themselves and became stranded on Japan’s northeastern coast.
However with the help of frantic rescue efforts Friday, several of the stranded animals were saved.
Mostly melon-headed whales or blackfish, the dolphins were found alive but were extremely weak and later died.
Television footage showed dozens of people carrying buckets and pouring sea water over the dolphins, or even covering them with bath towels, to keep them from drying up. The dolphins were wobbling and moving their fins as rescuers gently rubbed them.
They dolphins between 2 to 3 meters (yards) long were scratched badly, possibly from moving in the shallow coastal waters and on dry land.
The stranding occurred along about 10 kilometers (6 miles) of beach in Hokota, northeast of Tokyo.
The coast guard and police patrol boats transported three of the dolphins in good health offshore and released them in the water. Nearly all of the others were thought to be hopeless. Those that die were to be buried.
“It was becoming dark and too dangerous to continue the rescue work at this beach, where we could not bring heavy equipment,” said an unnamed Hokota city official.
“Many people volunteered to rescue them but the dolphins became very, very weak.”
“Only three of them have been successfully returned to the sea, as far as we can confirm,” he added.
Tadasu Yamada, a cetacean expert at the National Museum of Nature and Science, told Japan’s NHK public television that the dolphins may have had a physiological or psychological problem and faced an unknown threat and panicked, before becoming stranded.
Smaller beachings have occurred around Japanese coasts, including some 50 dolphins on a nearby beach in 2011.