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September 30, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Army aircraft spots stranded beluga whales, their escape

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — An Army unmanned aerial aircraft captured something pretty tragic in the waters of Cook Inlet. Then it captured something joyful.

KTVA reports  the aircraft was taking part late last month in an exercise in Knik Arm. The aircraft’s operator from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was giving helicopter crews an observational view of their training exercise.

Then the camera captured a large pod of beluga whales stuck in mud near Eagle Bay after the tide went out.

Soldiers believed five of the whales were dead, and federal biologists were called.

Authorities were preparing for a large-scale operation to conduct five necropsies when the aircraft’s cameras caught something else.

Aircraft operator Pfc. Raymond Lounsbury says they watched as the tide came back in, and the whales were able to swim off unharmed.

Comments | More in Environment, General news | Topics: Alaska, Army, beluga

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