December 8, 2022

Hobart, Australia – A day after 230 whales were found stranded on the wild and remote western coast of the Australian island of Tasmania, only 35 whales were left alive despite rescue efforts that were to continue Thursday.

It is assumed that half of the group of whales stranded in Port Macquarie were still alive on Wednesday, Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment said.

Brendon Clark, Tasmania’s director of parks and wildlife, said surfing took a heavy toll overnight.

“We screened the animals yesterday as part of the initial assessment and identified those animals that have the best chance of surviving out of about 230 stranded animals. Today’s focus will be rescues and releases,” Clark told reporters in nearby Strahan.

Clark added: “We have approximately 35 animals alive on the beach … and the primary focus this morning will be to rescue and release those animals.”

Whales ashore ashore two years after the largest mass stranding in Australian history was discovered in the same harbour.

About 470 long-finned pilot whales were found on September 21, 2020, stuck on sand bars. After a week-long effort, 111 of those whales were rescued but the rest died.

The entrance to the harbor is a shallow and dangerous channel known as Hell’s Gate.

Local salmon farmer Linton Kringle helped with the 2020 rescue effort and said the latter challenge would be more difficult.

“Last time they were already in port and it was very quiet and we could sort of handle them there and we could get the boats to them,” Kringle said.

“But only on the shore, you can’t take a boat there — it’s too shallow and too difficult. My thoughts would be to try and get them on a craft if we can’t swim in it,” Kringle added.

Vanessa Perrotta, a wildlife scientist who specializes in marine mammals, said it’s too early to explain why stranding occurs.

“The fact that we saw similar species, at the same time, in the same location, repeated in terms of stranding in the same place might provide sort of indication that there might be something ecological here,” Perrotta said.

David Madson, the general manager of the West Coast Council municipality, urged people to commit to serenity.

“Whales are a protected species, even after their death, and it is an offense to interfere with a carcass,” the Department of the Environment said.

14 sperm whales were discovered Monday afternoon on King Island, part of the state of Tasmania in the Bass Strait between Melbourne and the north coast of Tasmania.

It’s unusual for sperm whales to wash ashore, said Olaf Minneke, a marine scientist at Griffith University. He said that warmer temperatures could also alter ocean currents and move the whales’ traditional food.

“They will go to different areas and look for different food sources,” Mineke said. “When they’re doing that, they’re not in the best physical condition because they might be starving, so that might push them to take more risks and maybe even come closer to shore.”

Pilot whales are notorious for getting caught in large numbers for reasons that aren’t fully understood.

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