At least 90 whales are dead in stranding off Australia

At least 90 whales are dead in stranding off Australia
Crews assisting the stranded whales. Source: RYAN BLOOMFIELD/REUTERS
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Daily US Times: Australian rescuers say at least a third of 270 whales stranded off the coast of Australia’s Tasmania have died and more are feared to be dying.

The mass stranding on the west coast of the island was discovered on Monday.

In a tricky operation likely to take days, marine biologists are scrambling to save the remaining pilot whales

It’s not known what drew the whales to the shore. Whale beachings are common in the region, but one of this massive size has not been seen in over a decade.

Tasmania last recorded a mass stranding involving around 200 whales in 2009.

Rescuers arrived late on Monday and found three groups of whales across Macquarie Heads – a remote tip of the island with limited vessel and road access.

About 200 of the whales had washed up on a sandbar near a boat ramp, while 30 others were found several hundred metres away. Another 30 were found further inland along Ocean Beach, rescuers from the Tasmanian Maritime Conservation Program said.

Many of the mammals are in “relatively inaccessible” locations, posing a challenge for rescuers.

On Tuesday morning, a team of about 40 trained rescuers began to “re-float” a small number of whales – using equipment to push the animals off a sandbar into deeper waters.

Wildlife biologist Dr Kris Carlyon said: “Normally we’re dealing with animals high and dry on the beach. This is different. We’ve got animals semi-buoyant so it probably won’t take too much to re-float them – just involves a bit of grunt.”

If they are doing well in the water, then the next step is to get them further out.

Dr Carlyon said this would likely be a challenge against the strong tide. Boats might be used to help the manoeuvre.

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