In this photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) some of the of 33 dead pilot whales that were found on shore near Marco Island, Forida, are shown. (AP Photo/NOAA)

Washington - At least 33 whales died after dozens of the animals became stranded on Florida's Gulf Coast this week, local media reported on Friday.

The reasons for the pilot whales ending up in shallow water remain unclear, though the whales occasionally swim close to the shore when searching for food.

The bodies of the whales are being examined, USA Today reported.

“A major cold front came through, and it's suspected the animals pushed ashore at that time,” Blair Mase, marine mammal stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, told the newspaper.

Short-finned pilot whales typically live in groups of 30 to 50. The ones that beached themselves this week are possibly part of a larger group that became ill or distressed and has been working its way toward the coast for days, Mase said.

Last month dozens of pilot whales became stranded near Everglades National Park on the southern tip of Florida.

About 50 swam into shallow water and 11 died or had to be euthanized. The remainder was able to make their way into deeper waters.