2 more whales die in Australia as stranded deaths reach 200

HOBART, Australia (AP) โ€” Two more whales died in Australia on Friday after a handful of whales refloated a day earlier stranded themselves.

About 200 pilot whales have now died from a group of about 230 stranded this week on Tasmania’s wild and remote west coast.

The whales were discovered in Macquarie harbor on Wednesday. About half were still alive initially, but pounding surf killed many more. On Thursday, wildlife experts managed to get 32 โ€‹โ€‹of the 35 who survived, back to normal.

Some of those whales ended up back on the beach on Friday, said Brendon Clark, the incident controller for the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania. He couldn’t confirm an exact number, but said it was less than 10.

He said one of the whales died and another had to be euthanized.

“That’s unfortunate, but that’s also one of the consequences of events like this,” Clark told reporters.

He said the priority was to try to get the three surviving whales trapped on a remote part of the beach afloat during the incident, as well as the whales that had stranded themselves again.

After that would come the process of removing and disposing of the carcasses, he said. That would mean that they meet at a central point on the beach.

“That way, they can basically be longlined or tied together, ready for disposal at sea,” Clark said.

The whales will likely be towed to deep waters far from shore so they don’t wash ashore.

Rescuers hoped to reach the three remote beached whales late Friday but had difficulties due to the location and tidal conditions, Clark said. More than 50 government personnel and volunteers are involved in the rescue effort.

The creatures became two years after the largest mass beaching of whales in Australia’s history was discovered in the same harbor.

In 2020, about 470 long-fingered eagles were found trapped on sandbanks. After a week’s effort, 111 of those whales were rescued, but the rest died.

The entrance to the harbor is a notoriously shallow and dangerous channel known as Hell’s Gate.

The Associated Press

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