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Australia: Over 160 pilot whales stranded on coast of Dunsborough, at least 26 of them died I VIDEO

The whales are stranded at Toby Inlet in Geographe Bay, the Western Australia Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions said. The area is near the town of Dunsborough, a region popular among tourists, and about 236 km south of the state capital Perth.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Melbourne Updated on: April 25, 2024 11:49 IST
People walk near whales stranded on a beach at Toby's Inlet, Dunsborough
Image Source : REUTERS People walk near whales stranded on a beach at Toby's Inlet, Dunsborough

More than 160 long-finned pilot whales beached on the western Australian coast Thursday and at least 26 died before wildlife authorities could begin a rescue attempt. A team of wildlife officers, marine scientists and veterinarians had reached the scene at Toby’s Inlet near the tourist town of Dunsborough, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions said in a statement.

The stranded whales were from four pods spread across 500 meters of shore, the department said. An additional 20 whales were in a pod about 1.5 kilometres offshore and 110 whales formed a pod closer to the beach, it said.

VIDEO: More than 160 pilot whales stranded in Western Australia

Rescue team responding to keep them safe

“Our team is making every effort to safely respond and keep volunteers and staff safe, while also acting in the best interests of the whales,” the statement said. “Our team is assessing the conditions of the whales that have been stranded on the beach. Our teams on the water are trying to keep the animals together and away from the beach,” the statement added.

In July, almost 100 long-finned pilot whales died or were euthanized after a two-day rescue attempt in a mass stranding on Cheynes Beach near the former whaling station of Albany, 355 kilometres southeast of Dunsborough. Dunsborough is 285 kilometres by road south of Perth, Western Australia state’s capital and largest city.

Based on previous strandings including the 2023 Cheynes Beach event, euthanizing the beached whales is usually the most humane outcome, the department said. “We always hope for the best outcome,” the statement said.

"High numbers of animals that end up dying": Regional wildlife officer 

Regional wildlife officer Pia Courtis said the whales were believed to have become stranded early Thursday. She said the pod of 110 whales was “sticking together offshore” and was likely to come toward the beach. “Unfortunately the outcome for our pilot whales once they strand on the beach is generally not good. We have high numbers of animals that end up dying,” Courtis said in a video statement.

Officials urged the public not to try to rescue the whales on their own. “We know people want to help, but we asked that people please do not attempt to rescue the animals without direction of DBCA staff as this may cause further injury, and distress to the animals and hinder a coordinated rescue effort,” the Parks and Wildlife Service of Western Australia said in a statement. Dunsborough was the scene of a mass stranding of 320 long-finned pilot whales in 1996. Only 20 died on that occasion, with rescuers returning the rest to sea.

Scientists don’t know what causes whales to strand, although it appears their location systems can be confused by gently sloping, sandy beaches. Theories include that they are avoiding predators such as killer whales, or following a sick leader ashore. Human-made undersea noise could also interfere with their navigation.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Australia: About 230 whales stranded on Tasmania’s west coast; 'almost half' presumed dead

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