Hundreds of whales stranded in southern Australia: at least 25 died

Stranded pilot whales are seen in Tasmania, Australia September 21, 2020, Photo: Ryan Bloomfield/Reuters
Stranded pilot whales are seen in Tasmania, Australia September 21, 2020, Photo: Ryan Bloomfield/Reuters

At least twenty-five whales have died and scientists are trying to rescue 250 more who are stranded in a remote bay on the Australian island of Tasmania, officials said Monday.

Tasmania’s environment department said the whales had become stuck on a sandbar in Macquarie Harbour. Nic Deka, who manages the rescue operation, said two large pods were stranded on sandbars a few hundred meters apart inside the harbor.

“They are in water, but it’s very difficult to see how many of those whales are deceased or what condition they’re in,” Deka told reporters in the nearby town of Strahan.

They are believed to be pilot whales, but the environment department is yet to confirm the species.

Rescue mission
Police are on site and marine experts are assessing the situation ahead of plans to launch a rescue mission early Tuesday morning.

“In terms of the tides, when we start making an effort tomorrow, it will be with an outgoing tide, so that’ll be in our favor, but obviously tides go up and come down so we’ll be aiming to make the most of the windows that we have,” Deka said.

Mass whale strandings occur relatively often in Tasmania, but the large numbers involved make a successful rescue difficult.

Authorities may call on a network of local volunteers to assist but have closed off the area to the general public.

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