Another 2 whales die as the death toll close to 200 in Australia’s mass stranding

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Two more whales died in Australia on Friday after a handful that had been refloated the day before ran aground again.

About 200 pilot whales have now died from a group of about 230 that ran aground this week on Tasmania’s wild and remote west coast.

The whales were discovered Wednesday in Macquarie Harbor. At first about half were still alive, but the sound of the surf killed many more. Wildlife experts managed to resuscitate 32 of the 35 survivors on Thursday.

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Some of those whales ended up on the beach again on Friday, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Tasmanian crash controller Brendon Clark said. He couldn’t confirm an exact number, but said it was less than 10.

He said one of the whales died and another had to be euthanized.

The whales were spotted on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia on 21 September 2022. Two more whales died on 23 September 2022, bringing the death toll closer to 200.

The whales were spotted on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia on 21 September 2022. Two more whales died on 23 September 2022, bringing the death toll closer to 200.
(Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania via AP)

“It’s a shame, but it’s also one of the consequences of these kinds of events,” Clark told reporters.

He said the priority was to try to re-float the three surviving whales that were stranded during the incident in a remote part of the beach, as well as any whales that ran aground again.

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After that, the process of removing and disposing of the carcasses would follow, he said. This would involve bringing them together at a central point on the beach.

“That way they can basically be stretched or tied together, ready for disposal at sea,” Clark said.

Whales are likely to be towed into deep water away from the coast so they don’t end up on shore.

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Rescuers hoped to be able to reach the three remotely beached whales at the end of Friday, but they faced difficulties due to the location and tidal conditions, Clark said. More than 50 government personnel and volunteers were involved in the relief efforts.

The creatures were found two years after the largest mass whale stranding in Australia’s history was discovered in the same harbor.

In 2020, around 470 long-finned pilot whales were found stuck on sand banks. After a week-long effort, 111 of those whales were rescued but the rest died.

The entrance to the port is a notoriously shallow and dangerous canal known as Hell’s Gate.