EDISTO BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) – Four whales died Saturday morning after they stranded themselves along Edisto Beach.

According to Lauren Rust, the Director of Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network, the group of whales were reported stranded on the beach around 7 a.m. However, it is unclear how long the whales had been there. When emergency and rescue crews arrived, one whale was dead and three others were euthanized shortly after.

Rust believes all four whales are pilot whales. Rust said pilot whales typically live far offshore in very deep water.

“It’s very concerning that they were this close to shore,” Rust said.

Rust says marine mammals always strand for a reason.

“It’s usually because of a sickness or because they are weak,” Rust said. “Then they just get brought in by a tide.”

Rust said when whales strand, they do not push them back in because it usually prolongs the animal’s pain.

“A lot of people ask why we don’t push the animals back in and it’s because it hurts more than it helps,” Rust said.

Courtesy: Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network

When LMMN arrived on the beach, Rust said they kept the animals comfortable on the shore, provided shade and kept them wet until the Veterinarian could assess. Once the vet arrived, it was determined that the three living whales had to be euthanized. All three were euthanized on the beach.

Currently, the animals are at Edisto Public Works where necropsies are being performed to see why the whales were stranded. After all testing is complete, the whales will be buried.