- Rescuers have managed to rescue only a few dozen whales among the 460 stuck in the area.
- Some of the whales freed on Tuesday became stranded again overnight.
- The cause for this mass stranding is still unknown, although the phenomenon is considered “a natural event.”
At least 380 whales have died in southern Australia as a result of a mass stranding at Macquarie Harbour, on the rugged west coast of Tasmania. Rescuers have managed to rescue only a few dozen whales among the 460 long-finned pilot whales stuck in the area.
Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka confirmed the death of the 380 whales. “There’s around 30 left still alive but the good news is that we have saved 50,” he said.
He describes the rescue effort for the whales as “emotionally taxing.”
The first batch of whales was found on Monday. This led to a massive effort to rescue them and free them from a sandbar, which was only reachable by boat.
The rescue crew consisted of conservationists, local fish farm workers, and skilled volunteers.
They spent two days wading through the cold waters to free the whales, who were partially submerged in the water.
Those who were still alive were guided back to the ocean using boats fitted with special slings.
At the moment, the crew is working against time to free as many of the living whales as possible. Deka said that thy are focused on the job, with some of them submerged chest-deep in cold water. They are trying to rotate the crew members so they can get the job done.
The whales were stranded up to six miles (10 kilomters) apart. The searches have been expanded to see if there are more mammals stranded nearby.
Some of the whales freed on Tuesday became stranded again overnight, which was actually predicted by whale behavior experts.
Despite this, Deka continues to be optimistic about the chances of those whales that remained in the ocean.
This by far is the largest mass stranding ever recorded in Tasmania and likely the biggest in Australia’s history. The cause for the mass strandings is still unknown, which baffled even scientists who have been researching on the phenomenon for decades.
Some experts suggested that the whales may have gone off track after they have fed close to the shoreline. It could also be because they followed one or two whales that have strayed paths.
Kris Carlyon, a Tasmanian environment department marine biologist, described it was a “natural event.” He said that these strandings happen regularly not only in southern Australia, but in New Zealand as well.
“We do step in and respond in these situations, but as far as being able to prevent these occurring in the future, there’s really little that we can do,” Carlyon said.
Officials will now have to deal with the disposal of the dead carcasses. Assessors will be arriving to form a clean-up…
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