Rescuers rescued the last 20 live whales trapped off the coast of Australia
Rescuers have managed to save the last 20 live pilot whales from the nearly 500 that were trapped in a bay on the island of Tasmania in southern Australia, local officials said today.
In total, 108 whales were rescued in the last five days, most of them dragged to deeper waters using speedboats, out of the 488 that were trapped in the sands at Macquarie earlier in the week, on Australia’s largest mass stranded.
The Tasmanian government said today, in a statement, that it believes there are no more live whales in the port, reports Efe.
With the rescue of the live whales completed, authorities will focus efforts on the need to remove the bodies of the 380 who died in the aftermath of the incident and who remain in the bay.
The statement adds that the authorities will take advantage of Sunday, when weather conditions are expected to improve, to find a solution for the disposal of the corpses of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), which can measure up to 6.7 meters and weigh 2.5 tons.
The removal of all bodies will take several days and will depend on winds, tides and weather conditions.
The authorities are looking at various ways to get rid of the high number of corpses, which pose risks to navigation and can attract predators such as sharks, which pose a danger to people.
The most viable option would be to drag dead whales out to sea.
The incident, considered an environmental tragedy, began on Monday when authorities spotted the first 270 pilot whales stranded on a beach and on two sandbanks, near the remote town of Strahan on the west coast in the island state of Tasmania .
On Wednesday, 200 more whales were found dead, less than ten kilometers to the south.
Tasmania is the only area in Australia that is prone to mass stranding, although it does occasionally occur on the Australian continent.
The biggest incident of its kind in Australia occurred in 1996, when 320 pilot whales ran aground near the town of Dunsborough, in Western Australia, in 1996.
This is the first in Tasmania since 2009 that involves more than 50 whales.
In neighboring New Zealand, more than 600 pilot whales arrived on the South Island at Farewell Spit in 2017.
These cetaceans are animals with a strong family bond and, therefore, many die during stranding due to the stress caused by the separation of the group, while others end up dying from fatigue or lack of oxygen because they are unable to move.
Pilot whales or common cauldrons are protected species of cetaceans belonging to the dolphin family and are not considered to be an endangered species.
Although there are no official figures, it is estimated that there are about 200,000 pilot whales in the North Atlantic and in the southern ocean waters bordering Antarctica.
Scientists have not yet been able to explain why these cetaceans sometimes deviate from their routes and become trapped in shallow waters, although the possibility of them getting lost, attracted by noise pollution or guided by a disoriented group leader is considered.
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