JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Australia says majority of 470-strong beached whale pod has died

Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 14:47 GMT+7
Australia says majority of 470-strong beached whale pod has died
Whale rescue efforts take place at Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania, Australia September 22,2020 in this picture obtained from social media. Photo: Reuters

SYDNEY — The majority of a 470-strong pod of pilot whales found stranded off Australia’s remote southern coast has died, officials said on Wednesday, as rescuers struggled in freezing waters and fading light to free those still alive.

The group, which is the biggest beaching in the country’s modern history, were first spotted a wide sandbank during an aerial reconnaissance of rugged Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania state on Monday.

After two days of a difficult and dangerous rescue attempt, state marine scientists said at least 380 of the long-finned pilot whales had died.

By late Wednesday, around fifty of the mammals were freed but experts said there was a high likelihood they would return as many did during the rescue attempt a day earlier, creating an exhausting loop for rescuers who cannot work through the night.

The outlook for the remaining 30 stranded and still alive pilot whales, a species of oceanic dolphin that grow to 7 metres (23 ft) long and can weigh up to 3 tonnes, was bleak.

“As time goes on, they do become fatigued and their chance of survival reduces,” Nic Deka, Parks and Wildlife Service incident controller said.

“We do expect to rescue more but increasingly our focus is what do with the carcasses.”

The refloating process involves as many as four or five people per whale wading waist-deep in freezing water, attaching slings to the animals so they can be guided out of the harbour by a boat.

Graphic: Reuters

Graphic: Reuters

The stranding, about 200 kms (120 miles) northwest of the state capital Hobart, is the biggest on record in modern Australia and one of the largest in the world, drawing attention to a natural phenomenon that remains a mystery to scientists.

“It’s certainly a major event and of great concern when we potentially lose that many whales out of a stranding event,” said Peter Harrison, a professor at the Southern Cross University Whale Research Group.

“Quite often we only get to really see them when there are bad outcomes, such as this stranding event. We absolutely need some more investment in research to understand these whales in Australian waters.”

In 1996, 320 pilot whales washed up on the coast of Western Australia, in what was then reported to be the country’s biggest mass stranding.

About 600 pilot whales beached in nearby New Zealand in 2017.

A whale is seen on harness on the side of a moving boat off the coast of Tasmania, Australia, September 22, 2020, in this still image from video obtained via social media. Photo: Reuters

A whale is seen on harness on the side of a moving boat off the coast of Tasmania, Australia, September 22, 2020, in this still image from video obtained via social media. Photo: Reuters

Reuters

More

Reverse culture shock in Vietnam

Fifteen minutes in a taxi was like an airplane trip halfway around the world, finishing disoriented in a far-off land, surrounded by the unfamiliar

Read more

;

Photos

VIDEOS

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Vietnamese-made app allows people to grow real veggies via smartphone

Nguyen Thi Duyen, a young engineer in Hanoi, developed the app and its related services to help busy people create their own veggie gardens.

Chinese tourists hit by Vietnamese over dine and dash

Four Chinese were reportedly injured, with one having a broken arm.

Latest news