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7 whales die on Galapagos island

Seven of 12 pilot whales that came ashore on the Galapagos Islands died Sunday, despite the efforts of rescuers who dug makeshift pools in the sand to keep them from dehydrating.

Seven of 12 pilot whales that came ashore on the Galapagos Islands died Sunday, despite the efforts of rescuers who dug makeshift pools in the sand to keep them from dehydrating. The five other whaleswere returned to the ocean.

The whales, which are three to nine metres 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.

"We succeeded in moving five whales into the open sea, aboutfive kilometres from the shore, which we expect will keep them from returning," she said.

The Galapagos Islands, 1,005 kilometres off Ecuador's 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.

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