Despite ongoing rescue operations, about 200 stranded pilot whales have perished on Tasmania’s west coast, while others have been safely transported to deeper water.
On Wednesday, some 230 pilot whales in a pod became stranded on Ocean Beach, west of Strahan. Some of them were also left stranded on a sand flat in the southern part of Macquarie Harbour.
On Wednesday, marine conservationists started a rescue operation, and work is still ongoing. Sam Gerrity of Southwest Expeditions, who has been participating in the rescue and release effort, stated that “dozens of whales have been salvaged and brought to deeper water.”
Only 35 of the 230 cetaceans on Ocean Beach were still alive as of Thursday morning, according to the officials. The majority of the mammals on the shore had regrettably passed away, according to incident controller Brendon Clark.
On this specific stranding, “unfortunately, we do have a high fatality rate out there,” he stated.
He explained, “We placed them overnight so that we could inspect them this morning. This morning’s main focus will be on the rescue and release of the about 35 remaining animals that are out on the beach.
“Triaging was done yesterday, which involved figuring out which animals stood the highest chance of surviving. We kept the animals that were still living comfortably by giving them any shade and water we could.
According to Clark, the exposed circumstances on Ocean Beach contributed to the high fatality rate. He also claimed that officials were only allowing those with prior training or experience working with marine species to volunteer.
“We appreciate all of the offers and the goodwill that the community has shown. It’s more important to have a secure workplace and knowledgeable, trained employees.
According to Clark, the environmental circumstances on Ocean Beach were significantly more challenging than the estuary’s relative shelter, where a similar mass stranding incident happened two years ago.
The worst mass stranding in Australian history occurred in 2020 when 470 long-finned pilot whales were discovered beached on sandbars and confined inside the heads of Macquarie Harbour. The animals were essentially floating the last time, according to Clark. They were somewhat buoyant.
Authorities have instructed Macquarie Harbour ship captains to keep an eye out for potential strandings elsewhere. Clark continued, “We will be conducting our own patrols, using both aerial reconnaissance and vessel-based harbour sweeps.
We’ll be monitoring it because we’re aware that some of them might re-beach themselves, Clark added. Although there have been reports of whales in the harbour area, they thankfully still appear to be swimming freely.
This mass stranding is the second one to happen recently. 14 dead sperm whales, all young males, washed up on King Island in the Bass Strait on Monday.