Reports from Australia’s southern island state of Tasmania yesterday said that around 500 pilot whales have been found stranded in shallow waters on a remote beach in what is being recognised as the largest such mass stranding recorded in Australia.
Authorities in the region have already rescued a number of the whales first discovered on Monday.
At the time around 270 individual whales were thought to have swam into shallow waters or beached themselves on two sand bars off the town of Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania.
At the time, there was little to indicate that within 48 hours a further 200 stranded whales would have become stranded just 6 miles to the south.
Yesterday morning, however, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service Manager Nic Deka confirmed that “From the air, they didn’t look to be in a condition that would warrant rescue,” Deka said. “Most of them appeared to be dead.”
Rescue efforts on the first group of whales throughout Monday did not go as planned and by the evening around a third were confirmed to have died.
Information on the whales stranded on Wednesday continues to come in, with latest figures released by those at the scene indicating that a total of around 380 of all the whales have now died – as of Thursday morning.
Unlike neighboring New Zealand, whales becoming stranded in Australia is a much less common occurrence.
The largest previous such case of whales becoming stranded in Australia happened 24 years ago in Dunsborough, Western Australia, 200km south of Perth.
In that stranding, 320 pilot whales were stranded.