Australian authorities on Tuesday said one third of pilot whales stranded off Tasmania’s West Coast have died, local media reported.
Rescuers freed 25 animals after over 200 whales were stranded at Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s West Coast, according to ABC News.
The authorities are working to save about 270 whales stranded on a sandbank at Macquarie Heads, near the town of Strahan, about 190 kilometers (118 miles) from Hobart on Monday.
In a statement, the Tasmanian state government said marine conservation experts have mapped out a rescue response.
“An estimated 270 pilot whales are believed to have stranded at Strahan, with 200 stranded on a sandbar off the Macquarie Heads boat ramp, another 30 several hundred metres away on another sandbar, and about 30 more along Ocean Beach,” the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said.
Kris Carlyon of the Marine Conservation Program said experts involved with rescue efforts are trying to refloat animals and assess their behavior.
“A lot of the rescue efforts will depend on how these animals respond once they have water underneath them,” Carlyon said. “Some animals may be too big or the location is too difficult to get to. About a third of the animals are deceased. We will update figures later in the day.”
Nic Deka, a regional manager with the Parks and Wildlife Service, said the plan has been to try various rescue efforts before identifying the method which may offer the best chance of success.
“We have now freed a small number successfully that appear to have stayed out at sea and are now scaling up that approach,” Deka said.
Carlyon said the rescue is likely to take days, depending on weather and tide conditions.
“These are long-finned pilot whales, they are quite a robust species. They are wet, they are cool, and today we have some really suitable weather for them,” Carlyon said. “If conditions stay the same they can survive for quite a few days as we have specialised equipment to help.”
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid
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