Over 470 pilot whales flung themselves out of the sea in the coastal town of Strahan in Australia, and 380 of them have perished on the shores. Desperate fishermen and marine officials worked frantically on Wednesday to drag many of the surviving beached whales back into the sea, but most others were dead before they could be rescued.
According to the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, 270 pilot whales were first found beached in several sandy shores of Strahan. And while the authorities were strategizing on how to rescue some of the surviving ones, a helicopter survey discovered 200 other beached whales six miles way with all of them perished.
With concerted efforts, the authorities managed to save 50 surviving whales and moved them to the Macquarie Harbour so that they could be released into the open ocean. But 30 of them got stranded again after they were released and subsequently perished on the shores.
“We’ll continue to work to free as many of the animals as we can,” Nic Deka of the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service had said. “We’ll continue working for as long as there are live animals.”
Kris Carlyon, a wildlife biologist with the Marine Conservation Program, disclosed that this is the largest whale stranding and death event in Australian history. In 1996, 320 pilot whales washed up the shores of Dunsborough town in Western Australia; and 200 whales were equally marooned in 2009 according to Tasmania. Over 350 pilot whales died in 2017 when more than 600 beached in Farewell Spit of New Zealand’s South Island.
Marine biologists do not understand why whales fling themselves to the beach, but they know that whales tend to follow their leader with all loyalty and also gather around a member of their pod that is injured or depressed in any way. Sometimes, a pod can contain up to 1,000 members. Pilot whales are small dark-colored whales or species of oceanic dolphins of the Atlantic Ocean that can grow up to 23 feet and weigh up to three tonnes.