Volunteers help to save five whales after 150 stranded on WA beach

25 March, 2018, 01:32 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Only 15 whales have survived a mass stranding event in Western Australia

Australian rescuers were racing against time to save 15 short-finned pilot whales on Friday after more than 150 of the migrating mammals beached on the country's west coast.

About 150 whales were spotted on the beach by a fisherman at 6.00am on Friday after washing up about one kilometre north of the boat ramp at the beach, 10 kilometres north of Augusta.

"We're obviously managing the animals and the palliative care of those animals, and the rescue of the animals that are still alive, if possible", Mr Tannock said.

Most of the whales did not survive after beaching themselves, according to Jeremy Chick, incident controller at Western Australia's Parks & Wildlife Service.

Parks and Wildlife Service officers are taking DNA samples from the dead whales to look for clues about why the whales stranded themselves.

A shark alert has been issued by the Fisheries Department as the whale carcasses may attract the ocean predators.

Parks and Wildlife Service staff are being assisted by vets, Sea Search and Rescue, and more than 100 volunteers.

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A sixth whale was freed into shallow waters overnight but it beached again and had to be euthanised.

Efforts were underway Friday evening to move the seven surviving whales to deeper water, the department said on Twitter.

A report on the Live Science website suggests that large groups of short-finned pilot whales are vulnerable to mass strandings because of loud, human-made sounds, such as navy sonar.

Scientists do not know exactly what causes whales to beach themselves. "Short-finned pilot whales are closely related to long-finned pilot whales, although they have shorter flippers with less of an elbow".

"This has often been the case in previous mass strandings", he added. Tests are now being carried out on the remains of the dead animals to find out why the animals became beached.

Stranded whales on the beach at Hamelin Bay in this picture obtained from social media on March 23.

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