June 16, 2024

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130 whales rescued from a mass beaching in Western Australia

130 whales rescued from a mass beaching in Western Australia


A dramatic operation to save the lives of more than 100 pilot whales ended in partial success on Thursday after wildlife officials were able to return most of the stranded animals to sea.

Rescue teams rushed to the beach in the coastal town of Dunsborough, south of Perth, to care for the whales.

Ian Wise, head of the Geograph Marine Research Group, who was involved in Thursday's rescue, said it was an “amazing sight”.

“You can see how close the whales are to each other. I've been able to (whale strandings) before but nothing on this scale has ever happened.”

In total, 130 whales were released back into the sea after a total of 160 whales beached, according to the Department of Parks and Wildlife in Western Australia (DPAW). However, at least 28 whales died.

Whale horns can return to shore even after being rescued. As a result, surveillance planes in the area continue to monitor and see if the released animals return to shore. “So far, they've stayed offshore,” Wise said.

“My initial reaction when I saw hundreds of whales huddled (together) on the beach was completely, completely overwhelming. It was really chaotic,” he added.

“However, the end result was good news – as is often the case with these events, only a few could be saved.”

The secret behind whale stranding

Animal behaviorists and marine scientists have He said previously Survival rates for beached whales are low, and the animals “can only survive six hours on land before they begin to deteriorate.”

Groups of local residents and wildlife officials worked together to hold the animals upright and “keep their blowholes clean,” Weese said.

Wildlife officials from DPAW were also present, as well as experienced veterinarians, trying to save as many whales as possible.

Like other whale species, pilot whales are very social and often seek out each other, especially if a member of the group is sick or injured.

“The remaining whales will play this amazing supporting role,” Weese said.

“When they're out at sea, in deep water, there's nothing that can disrupt that care process, but if an injured whale ends up close to shore, there's a lot of risk (to the pod) that will come in and get in the way… echolocation doesn't It works properly and before you know it, you have your whole family (stranded).”

He pointed to a “newborn calf” he saw among the stranded group.

“It was this little boy who still had wrinkles on his lower body and his attached navel,” Weese said. “This may or may not have been a factor behind these animals reaching the point of stranding.”

Last year, more than 50 pilot whales died in a mass stranding event in Scotland. That same month, Western Australian wildlife officials said they were forced to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize dozens of stranded long-finned pilot whales after frantic rescue efforts to refloat them failed to produce results.

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