HOBART – Two more whales died in Australia on Friday after a handful of whales that had been released a day earlier ran aground again.
About 200 pilot whales have died out of a group of about 230 whales that have been stranded on Tasmania’s wild and remote west coast this week.
The whales were spotted in Macquarie Harbor on Wednesday. About half were originally still alive, but the pounding surf killed much more. Wildlife experts on Thursday managed to recover 32 of the 35 that have survived.
Some of those whales were beached again on Friday, Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment incident manager Brendan Clarke said. He could not confirm the exact number but said it was less than 10.
He said one of the whales had died and the other had to be euthanized.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s also one of the consequences of events like this,” Clarke told reporters.
He said the first priority was to try to refloat the three surviving whales that had become stranded on a remote part of the beach during the incident, as well as any whales that had become stranded again.
After that, the process of removing and disposing of the corpses will take place, he said. This would mean gathering them together at a central point on the beach.
“That way they can basically be lined up or tied together, ready for disposal at sea,” Clark said.
The whales are likely to be towed to deeper waters further from the coast to prevent them from being washed ashore.
Rescuers had hoped to be able to reach the three remote whales that had washed ashore, but faced difficulties due to the location and tidal conditions, Clark said. More than 50 government employees and volunteers were involved in the rescue work.
The creatures were found two years later the largest mass of beached whales in Australian history was found in the same harbour.
About 470 long-feathered pilots were found in 2020 on sandbanks. After a week-long effort, 111 of those whales were rescued, while the rest died.
The entrance to the harbor is a notoriously shallow and dangerous channel known as Hell’s Gate.
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