2 more whales die in Australia as stranding deaths reach 200

HOBART, Australia – Two more whales died in Australia on Friday after a handful washed up a day earlier became stranded again.

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

The whales were discovered in Macquarie Harbor on Wednesday. About half were still alive initially, but the surf killed many more. Wildlife experts managed to refloat 32 of the 35 survivors on Thursday.

Some of those whales beached again on Friday, Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment incident controller Brendon Clark said. He could not confirm the exact number but said it was less than 10.

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

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s also one of the consequences of these types of events,” Clark told reporters.

He said the priority is to try to refloat the three surviving whales that were stranded throughout the incident and any whales that became stranded again.

After that, the process of removing and disposing of the carcasses will follow, he said. This would mean concentrating them in the center of the beach.

“So basically they can be strung up or tied together to be ready for disposal at sea,” Clark said.

The whales are likely to be towed far from the coast into deep water to prevent them from washing ashore.

Rescuers had hoped to be able to reach the three stranded whales late Friday, but they were having trouble with the location and tides, Clark said. More than 50 government employees and volunteers have participated in the rescue operations.

The creatures were found two years after the largest mass whale stranding in Australian history was discovered in the same port.

In 2020, about 470 long-finned pilot whales were found stuck on sandbanks. After a week-long effort, 111 of the whales were rescued, but the rest died.

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