Posted September 22, 2020 1:29 pm by

Rescuers race to save scores of stranded whales in Australia

Up to 90 whales have already died in the operation © POOL/AFP / Brodie WEEDING

Sydney, Australia, Sep 22 – Rescuers raced to save nearly 200 whales stuck in a remote Australian harbour on Tuesday, hoping to minimise the death toll of a mass stranding which had already killed 90.

Officials said at least 25 of the mammals had been freed so far.

A large pod of long-finned pilot whales is currently stuck on a sandbar in Macquarie Harbour, on Tasmania’s rugged and sparsely populated west coast, scientists said.

Images from the scene showed a shallow body of water, thick with scores of the large slick-black creatures manoeuvering for space, and rescuers wading in as they worked to refloat the whales in deeper passages.

Rescuers race to save scores of stranded whales in Australia

Map showing Macquarie Harbour on the Australian island of Tasmania, where hundreds of long-finned pilot whales have become stranded. © AFP / Laurence CHU

About 60 people — including volunteers and local fish-farm workers — are involved in the rescue attempt.

Government marine biologist Kris Carlyon said “about a third” of the 270 animals were dead by late Monday, and that rescuing survivors would be a challenging task likely to take several days.

But there were hopes Tuesday that efforts were already paying off, with at least 25 rescued and escorted to open ocean by boats, according to the official leading the operation.

Rescuers race to save scores of stranded whales in Australia

Rescuers are trying to help the surviving whales get back into the open ocean © TASMANIA POLICE/AFP / Handout

“We have now freed a small number successfully that appear to have stayed out at sea, and are now scaling up that approach,” Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka said.

Though mass whale strandings occur relatively often in Tasmania, such a large group has not been seen in the area for more than a decade.

The animals are only accessible by boat, limiting the number of rescuers who can reach them.

They are battling chilly and rainy conditions as well as the harbour’s unusual tides, which are dictated by barometric pressure.

“In terms of mass whale strandings in Tasmania, this is up there with the trickiest,” Carlyon told reporters in the nearby town of Strahan.

Rescuers race to save scores of stranded whales in Australia

Rescuers are battling cold, wet conditions as well as the Read More…Rescuers race to save scores of stranded whales in Australia  Rescuers race to save scores of stranded whales in Australia  Rescuers race to save scores of stranded whales in Australia  Rescuers race to save scores of stranded whales in Australia