About 230 whales have been stranded on Tasmania’s west coast, just days after 14 sperm whales were found washed up on King Island, northwest of Tasmania’s large island, in the middle of Bass Strait.
On September 21, a statement from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE Tas) of Tasmania, Australia said that about 230 whales, which appear to be “pilot whales” were “stranded” on Ocean Beach near the Port. Macquarie.
About half of them appear to be still alive.
Hundreds of whales stranded on Ocean Beach, Tasmania, Australia, September 21. Source: NRE Tas.
A team from the Tasmanian Marine Conservation Program (MCP) is deploying whale rescue equipment to the area in coordination with the Parks and Wildlife Service, as well as Tasmania Police. Marine wildlife experts will assess the scene and the situation to develop an appropriate response plan, the statement said.
It appears that about half of the stranded whales are still alive. Source: Andrew Breen / Huon Aquatology / AP.
NRE Tas warns whales are protected species, even in death, and tampering with a whale’s body is illegal.
Whales stranded on the island of Tasmania. Source:ABCNews
Marine scientist Olaf Meynecke of Griffith University said it was unusual for whales to wash ashore. Warmer sea temperatures could also alter ocean currents and move whales’ traditional food sources, he said.
Marine conservationists and rescuers approached the scene. Source: Andrew Breen / Huon Aquatology / AP.
“Whales will go to other areas in search of food. When they do this, they’re not in the best physical condition because they can go hungry, so they’re more at risk and can get closer to shore,” Meynecke noted.
Pilot whales often happen to be stranded in large numbers, for reasons that are not well understood.
Whale stranding in large numbers often occurs in Tasmania, Australia for unknown reasons. Source: ABC News / Monte Bavill.
Two years ago, about 470 longfin pilot whales were found washed up on the sands off the west coast of Tasmania in the largest mass stranding recorded in Australia.
After a week-long rescue effort, 111 of those whales were rescued but the rest died.