A mass stranding has claimed the lives of 150 pilot whales on a beach in the Australian state of Tasmania.
While the media initially reported 80 casualties, a body count on Sunday reveals that the number is actually 150.
The beached whales were discovered on Saturday near Sandy Cape. The coastline where they were stranded is very rocky, which makes any rescue effort all the more difficult.
According to Warwick Brennan from the Department of Primary Industries and Water, volunteers from the community and six department staff tried to save the whales, but they were too badly injured by the rocky coastline.
30 Whales Saved
Although the rescuers were unable to save the 150 beached whales, they were able to prevent another 30 whales from coming ashore.
The whales were milling around offshore but drawing closer to the coastline, where one stranded whale appeared to be calling out to the pod.
“Our first priority was to try to stop other animals from stranding so we decided to move the animal still calling onshore further up the beach and away from the pod to see if that made any difference,” explained Mr Brennan.
“Unfortunately, that whale died but what happened then was those 30 whales milling around seemed more willing to move on and with a boat in the water we managed to shepherd them out of the bay.
“Hopefully, those animals now will move on.”
More Strandings Expected
This weekend’s stranding comes only a week after another mass stranding in Tasmania. Last weekend, 53 pilot whales died in a mass stranding at Anthony’s Beach.
And according to Mr Brennan, we should expect more in the near future. He says that whale strandings in Tasmania are becoming more and more common.
“We go through periods where we are dealing with strandings every 12 days.” he said.
“That runs from a single animal stranding to these mass strandings and, at this time of year, it seems to be especially busy.”
Cause Of Whale Strandings
The cause of whale strandings has been the subject of much scientific debate. Theories range from noise related causes such as acoustic smog and seaquakes, to whales simply following their prey into shallow waters.
Although whale strandings are never a good thing, future strandings will hopefully provide us with more clues on what causes the strandings in the first place. The more we know about the causes of whale strandings the more we’ll be able to forecast and prevent them.