Terrified beachgoers flee water after mistaking whale pods for shark frenzy

Beachgoers started running for their lives when they thought they were caught up in a shark attack, when instead it was a pod of beached whales in the water.

The terrified beach visitors were caught on camera running away in horror from Prainha beach in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil.

A number of people were screaming in the footage, which was filmed on New Year's Eve, as they made their way out of the beach after witnessing the water turn dark as the sea animals were trashing around.

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Despite the initial thoughts being of sharks coming ashore, experts have since revealed that it was in fact harmless whales that the frightened swimmers were attempting to get away from.

Brazilian media were told by biologist Marcelo Tardelli, that the species seen in the footage was most probably the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima).

A town hall spokesperson said: "If confirmed, it is the first time this whale has appeared in Arraial and it is considered a rare species, being an important record for science."

According to some people, the white markings on the whales could potentially identify the mammals as harmless hourglass dolphins.

After the debacle was over, officials subsequently inspected the beach where they found beached whales and came to the conclusion that the sea creatures likely swam back out to sea.

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They confirmed the animals were in fact toothed whales and in some footage, some witnesses seemed to be attempting to help the sea creatures.

However, Fundacao do Meio Ambiente (Environment Foundation) said that this wasn't the right move as people should instead avoid approaching or touching stranded animals.

It said: "In these cases, the most advisable thing is to wait for the arrival of specialised teams to help the animal."


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