Hundreds of pilot whales die off Tasmania’s west coast after mass stranding

Wildlife experts are racing against time to save 35 pilot whales stranded on Tasmanian beaches.

About 230 whales were stranded at the entrance to Macquarie Harbor near Strahan on Tasmania’s west coast on Wednesday.

Sadly, Brendon Clark, Regional Operations Manager for the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, said only 35 whales survived that night.

camera iconNearly 200 whales have died near Macquarie Heads in Strahan.Huon aquaculture credit: News Corp Australia

“Unfortunately, the mortality rate for this particular stranding is high, largely due to the exposed conditions of Ocean Beach,” he said.

“The environmental conditions of the exposed West Coast waves are certainly taking a toll on the animals.”

After spending a day triaging whales to determine which whales are most likely to survive, rescuers were active Thursday in an attempt to carry out a daring operation.

Clark said about 50 professional and experienced personnel will be involved in the grueling task, including volunteers from three local aquaculture organizations, state emergency services and park employees.

“Our main focus this morning is to rescue and release any surviving animals,” the regional operations manager reiterated.

whale stranding
camera iconKris Carlyon is the Operations Manager for Stranding Events.Nicky Davis Jones credit: News Corp Australia
whale stranding
camera iconBrendon Clark is the Incident Manager for Mass Stranding.Nicky Davis Jones credit: News Corp Australia

Whales are gently rolled onto large whale mats and transported to trailers lined with comfortable mattresses.

Mechanical assistance is required for the crew to lift the whale onto the trailer, a feat that can usually be accomplished with just muscle and willpower. Natural Resources and the Environment Chris Carrion, Operations Manager for Tasmania’s Marine Conservation Program, says the device will make rescues more efficient.

“We’re sure it will speed things up a bit and help make sure we’re managing fatigue,” he said.

“There are animals that are inherently tall and dry on the sand. These animals weigh as much as 2.5 tons. They are big and heavy.”

Pilot whales are then transported to deeper waters where they are released.

A Marine Conservation Program manager said there could be more whale casualties on Thursday as crews race the clock.

“I think it’s inevitable that we’ll lose a few more of these animals,” Carrion said.

“They’ve been stranded for over 24 hours. They’re in a very dangerous, stressful place. They’re not semi-buoyant.”

Rescue teams have been working hard throughout Thursday to “maximize success” and save as many whales as possible. Carrion said he was “optimistic” about the number of whales the crew could rescue on Thursday.

“I am confident that we can make a real impact on these 35 animals and start moving most of them by today,” he said.

They said it was ‘confronting’ to see whales stranded en masse, and ‘difficult’ to see highly social and intelligent whales stranded. He said that steps should be taken to prevent it from happening again.

“We are aware that some of these animals may be beached again, and we will be monitoring that,” Clark said.

Keep the whale moist and cool until you can move it.

Experts have made numerous comparisons to the largest mass whale stranding incident in Australia’s history, which occurred almost exactly two years ago.

In September 2020, approximately 450 pilot whales were stranded in the same area and 100 were rescued.

The whale’s lack of buoyancy and more exposed locations make this rescue more difficult, but rescuers say they’ve learned an “enormous amount” from the 2020 event.

“Now we have more experience, faster,” says Carlyon.

whale stranding
camera iconAfter being removed from Ocean Beach, rescued whales are transferred into the water.Nicky Davis Jones credit: News Corp Australia

He speculated that there could be so many beaches in the Macquarie Heads area because the shallow waters in the area could interfere with whale echolocation systems and create “whale traps.” .

Clark said Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday will be spent retrieving the whale carcass and taking it out to deep water.

The mass stranding comes just days after 14 sperm whales washed up on King Island and died.

Hundreds of pilot whales die off Tasmania’s west coast after mass stranding

Source link Hundreds of pilot whales die off Tasmania’s west coast after mass stranding

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