About 270 pilot whales are stranded in the small town of Strahan in Tasmania, an island nation off the south coast of Australia. According to the Tasmanian Maritime Safety Project, which is spearheading the rescue operation, they are scattered in two sand dunes and pieces of the beach.
“This is a very challenging event,” he said. “As for the mass fibers in Tasmania, this is one of the tricks we have to deal with so far.”
Other potential problems include an unpredictable wave, and the possibility of distressed whales attracting sharks to the area.
Rescue teams of about 60 people include volunteers, police, fish farms and Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. Carlion said they are forced to test by clearing the clock and launching the Whales who have the best chance of success.
First, rescuers are trying to “modify” the whales by changing them in the water, “Carlion said – if that doesn’t work, or the whales misbehave, that’s another tactic they move.
Rescue work takes days, raising concerns that the whales may not live long. But the current weather keeps the whales moist and cool, which is “the best” – if conditions are like this, the whales will survive for a few more days.
It is not entirely clear what caused the whales to wash ashore, although Carlion also said there were mass fibers in similar places in some places. Whales may have been drawn after feeding near the beach; Or, a few whales may have wandered too close to the “simple misconception” that the rest of the pod followed.
Once the rescuers hope to save the remaining whales, they will have another daunting task ahead of them – to move dozens of whale carcasses out of the harbor into the sea. Usually when fibers occur, experts prefer to leave the bodies, Carlion said – but in this case they can not do it because the area is too close to human camps and operational sites.
Authorities warned the public to stay out of the area and not to approach the beach in boats.
The Department says these mass fibers often include social species that live together in large groups. Pilot whales, sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins are the most endangered species.
CNN’s Jack Guy and Soul Hahn contributed to the report.
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