Two more whales die as death toll nears 200 in Australia’s mass stranding

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Two more whales died on Friday in Australia after a handful that had been refloated the day before was stranded.

About 200 pilot whales have died so far from a group of about 230 stranded this week on the wild and remote west coast of Tasmania.

The whales were discovered on Wednesday in Port Macquarie. About half of them were still alive at first, but surfing the waves killed a lot more. On Thursday, wildlife experts managed to re-float 32 of the 35 who survived.

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Some of these whales have ended up ashore again, said Brendon Clark, a Tasmanian Incident Monitor with the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. He couldn’t confirm the exact number but said it was less than 10.

He said that one of the whales died and that the other needed to be euthanized.

Stranded whales were seen on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia, on September 21, 2022. Two more whales died on September 23, 2022, bringing the death toll to nearly 200.
(Department of Natural Resources and the Environment of Tasmania via AP)

“This is unfortunate, but this is also one of the consequences of such events,” Clark told reporters.

The priority, he said, is to try to re-float the three remaining whales that have been stranded throughout the accident on a remote part of the shore as well as any of the stranded whales again.

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After that, he said, the process of removing and disposing of the bodies would come. This may involve bringing them together at a central point on the beach.

“That way they can be long or tied together, ready to be disposed of at sea,” Clark said.

The whales would likely be dragged into deeper waters far from the coast so they wouldn’t wash ashore.

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Clark said rescuers had hoped to be able to reach the three remote whales late Friday, but encountered difficulties due to the location and tidal conditions. More than 50 government employees and volunteers participated in the rescue effort.

The creatures were found two years after the largest mass stranding of whales in Australian history was discovered in the same harbour.

About 470 long-finned pilot whales were found in 2020 stuck on sand bars. After a week-long effort, 111 of those whales were rescued but the rest died.

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

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