2 more whales die as death toll nears 200 in Australia

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two more the whales are dead Friday in Australia after a handful that had been refloated a day earlier ran aground again.

Around 200 pilot whales have now died from a pod of around 230 that washed up on Tasmania’s wild and isolated west coast this week.

Whales were discovered in Macquarie Harbor on Wednesday. About half were still alive initially, but the pounding waves killed many more. Wildlife experts managed to bail out 32 of the 35 that had survived on Thursday.

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

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

Whales are seen stranded on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia on September 1.  September 21, 2022. Two more whales died on September 21.  December 23, 2022, bringing the death toll closer to 200.

Whales are seen stranded on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia on September 1. September 21, 2022. Two more whales died on September 21. December 23, 2022, bringing the death toll closer to 200.
(Tasmanian Department of Natural Resources and Environment via AP)

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

He said the priority was to try to refloat the three surviving whales that had been stuck throughout the incident on a remote part of the beach as well as any whales that stranded again.

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After that would come the process of carcass removal and disposal, he said. This would involve bringing them together at a central point on the beach.

“That way they can basically be longlined or tied together ready to be thrown out to sea,” Clark said.

The whales will likely be towed into deep waters away from the coast so they don’t wash up on shore.

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Rescuers had hoped to be able to reach the three remote beached whales on Friday evening, but ran into difficulty due to location and tidal conditions, Clark said. More than 50 government employees and volunteers participated in the rescue efforts.

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

About 470 long-finned pilot whales were found in 2020 stuck on sandbars. After a week of effort, 111 of these whales were rescued, but the others died.

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