March 18, 2007

12 Whales Beached on Galapagos Islands

QUITO, Ecuador - Rescuers dug makeshift pools in the sand around 12 whales beached on the Galapagos Islands, filling the shallow pits with water Sunday in an effort to keep the whales from dying of dehydration.

The whales, which are 10 to 30 feet long, came ashore late Saturday near the southern town of Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island, the largest of the Galapagos, said Rosa Leon, a spokeswoman for the Galapagos National Park.

The Galapagos Islands, 625 miles off Ecuador's Pacific coast, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 for their exotic flora and fauna, including giant tortoises, marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies.

A study of finches on the islands inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.