TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Australian wildlife officials began disposing hundreds of dead pilot whales on Saturday, Sep. 26 after concluding there was no longer any hope of rescuing any more.
In Australia’s biggest whale beach, 470 whales were first spotted on a wide sandbank during an aerial reconnaissance in Tasmania on Sep. 21.
After days of difficult and dangerous rescue attempts, wildlife officials said they rescued 108 whales, with the rest now believed to have died.
Whales are very social marine mammals, and they typically travel together. The whales are believed to have gotten stuck and stranded together in the area, and were not able to get out.
Whale stranding is not a new phenomenon, sources say, but the scale of this one makes the situation very intriguing.
Rob Buck, Incident Controller and Parks and Wildlife Service manager, said in a statement that 15 whales have already been disposed of at sea, but the operations to dispose of the remaining near 350 mammals is expected to take several days.
The bodies of the dead whales are being separated into groups and enclosed with water booms to try keep them in one place- and isolated from sharks and other predators.
According to sources, the largest recorded mass-stranding of whales occurred in 1918 in New Zealand, when 1,000 whales were stuck in one area.