A POD of pilot whales have died after becoming stranded on a beach in northern Spain yesterday.

The 15-strong pod lost their bearings and beached on the sands of Moris beach, 15 km west of the town of Gijon.

Authorities were alerted by passers-by and teams from 112 emergency services initiated the Stranded Network Protocol.

Rescuers managed to return six of the whales to the ocean however nine were found dead.

A spokesman for the Asturias government said the remaining whales were staying close to the shoreline and that ‘all efforts are now focused on preventing them returning to the beach.’

Pilot whales are known for becoming stranded, however experts are still uncertain of the reasons behind this behaviour.

SOCIAL: Short Fin Pilot Whales are one of the most social of all the whale species

Some theories suggest that their strong social bond can lead healthy individuals to follow either a pod leader or a sick whale into becoming disorientated and stranded.

They are also very social, with pods regularly consisting of 10-30 whales.

Earlier this month, a pod of 470 pilot whales became stranded in Strahan, New Zealand.

So far, 350 of the whales have died with 94 being returned to the sea.

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