Against all odds, over 100 stranded whales have been rescued from a dire fate. Between 100 and 120 short-finned pilot whales washed up on the shore at Panadura, Sri Lanka, 15 miles south of the capital of Colombo on Monday afternoon. Luckily, the country’s navy and volunteer population were quick to act.

Sailors from the navy and coast guard, joined by passionate local volunteers who defied the COVID-19 curfew, managed to rescue most whales by dawn on Tuesday after an overnight rescue operation.

Indika de Silva, a navy spokesman, told AFP, “We used our small inshore patrol craft to pull the whales one by one back into deeper waters.” Sadly, four whales have died during the rescue operation, Reuters reports.

Prior to the rescue local authorities had been prepared for mass deaths — especially after an incident in September in Tasmania that saw 470 pilot whales stranded, with only 110 surviving.

The cause of mass stranding events — and this event in particular — is still unknown.