About 30 whales beached themselves over the weekend in the northeastern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte, with fishermen helping all except six of the marine mammals make it back out to sea, officials said.

The whales were found Sunday on Upanema beach, located about 327 kilometers (203 miles) from Natal, the capital of Rio Grande do Norte.

Fishermen immediately set up an improvised rescue operation and helped save most of the whales.

Personnel from a whale research institute at the University of Rio Grande do Norte and police officers also assisted in the rescue effort.

Six of the whales died on the beach despite the best efforts of rescuers, police Lt. Joao Almeida said.

The marine mammals were young pilot whales, University of Rio Grande do Norte researchers said. EFE