TODAY

TODAY   |  December 05, 2013

Rescue attempt continues for stranded whales

A race to save a group of stranded pilot whales in a remote part of the Florida Everglades continues Thursday. NBC’s Mark Potter reports.

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>>> meantime in florida, it's a desperate time against time to save desperate pilot whales they were found by fishermen in a remote part of the everglades. nbc's mark potter is there. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, matt, the rescue effort was suspended overnight for safety reasons. they will be out there today with the u.s. coastguard and the miami-dade police. now we are to get they are worried of sharks in the area as they hope to save some of the stranded whales. this morning the rescuers are headed back to the beach, still determined to do whatever they can to save them.

>> we are hoping that when they get the chance or maybe with the change of tide they will head out.

>> reporter: but it's a daunting challenge. there is an obstacle course of sandbars stretching 20 miles between where the whales are and the much deeper water where they are normally found. on wednesday, a small flotilla of scientists worked feverishly trying to coax them back out to sea. for a while these boats were surrounding the whales, now they have backed off taking advantage of the high tide hoping the whales will swim off on their own into deeper water him some scientists believe that is unlikely because whales are such social animals so when one member of the family gets into trouble, the others stay, seemingly reluctant to leave them.

>> we are not able to move them away.

>> reporter: little is known why pilot whales boat themselves. some think it may be disease or toxins and parra sites that make them toxic and weak. for now, it's a race against time , rescuers to save as many as whales as possible doing whatever they can. now as efforts continue along the beach, tissue samples from some of the whales are being sent to a lab to try to understand why this happened. savannah.

>> all right. mark potter , thank