According to Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, about 230 pilot whales have been stranded on a Tasmanian beach. In a Wednesday news release, officials said about half the animals were still alive.
“A team from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania Marine Conservation Program (MCP) is assembling whale rescue gear and heading to the area,” the department said. “They will work alongside staff from the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service and Tasmanian Police.”
The beach in question is Ocean Beach, located on Tasmania’s West Coast. The whales were stranded near Macquarie Harbour, the entrance to which is a notoriously shallow and dangerous channel known as Hell’s Gate. Still, a wildlife scientist specializing in marine mammals said it was too early to explain why the stranding had occurred.
“The fact that we’ve seen similar species, the same time, in the same location, reoccurring in terms of stranding at that same spot might provide some sort of indication that there might be something environmental here,” Vanessa Pirotta said. She is referring the largest mass-stranding of whales in Australia’s history, which was discovered in the same harbor exactly two years ago.
About 470 long-finned pilot whales were found stuck on sandbars. After a weeklong effort, 111 of those whales were rescue. The rest died.
“Last time they were actually in the harbor and it’s quite calm and we could, sort of, deal with them in there and we could get the boats up to them,” Tasmanian salmon fisher Kringle told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “But just on the beach, you just can’t get a boat in there, it’s too shallow, way too rough. My thoughts would be try to get them onto a vehicle if we can’t swim them out.”
Wednesday’s discovery of the stranded whales on a Tasmanian beach comes days after 14 sperm whales were found beached on an island off the Australian state’s northwestern coast.