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Necropsies began Friday morning on 25 dead pilot whales that were discovered Thursday near Kice Island in southwest Florida.

The 16 males and nine females were part of a pod of whales first seen swimming around Gordon Pass in Naples in Collier County on Sunday, NOAA Fisheries Southeast marine mammal stranding coordinator Blair Mase said.

Biologists marked the whales, which were spotted again off Marco Pass near Marco Island on Monday. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat stayed with the group for much of Monday, when they were two miles off-shore, before officials stopped monitoring them.

But early Thursday afternoon, officials received a report from a boater who saw the whales on Kice Island, Mase said.

Mase said the whales came in on the high seas and were beached on Kice Island. It is on the south side of Caxambas Pass, which divides Marco Island and Kice Island, NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Kim Amendola said. They were discovered 16 miles south of where they were originally spotted on Sunday.

A FWC field biologist went out and confirmed that the whales were all dead, and had been there for about 24 hours, Mase said. The biologist was accompanied by FWC law enforcement.

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