Whales die in mass stranding in Australia

At least 1/3 of 270 whales in Tasmania Island, Australia are feared dead in what is known as a mass stranding. The pilot whales were found lying in shallow waters off the West Coast of the Island. The cause that drew the whales to the shore is still unestablished and Marine biologists are striving to rescue other whales in an operation they state might take a couple of days. 

About 200 whales were found on a sandbar while 30 others several hundred meters away. Though rescuers are interested in guiding the whales to safer waters, the whales are in relatively inaccessible locations.

Tasmania last experienced such a mass stranding in 2009 where about 200 pilot whales died. Although whales frequenting areas close to the beach is a common phenomenon, Tasmania has not seen such a long whale in over a decade.

More of the whales are on a remote tip of the island with limited vessel and road access. 40 trained rescuers have managed to refloat the whales as well as pushing the animals off the shore into the water. The aim of rescuing the whales is so that they can be taken further into the waters after they begin to do well.

“Normally we’re dealing with animals high and dry on the beach. This is different. We’ve got animals semi-buoyant so it probably won’t take too much to re-float them – just involves a bit of grunt,” said wildlife biologist Dr Kris Carlyon.

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