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Australian Rescuers Rush to Save 230 Pilot Whales Stranded in Tasmania, Half Feared Dead

Published: September 22, 2022
Hundreds of beached pilot whales were spotted off the coast of Ocean beach in Tasmania, Australia on September 21, 2022. (Image: via Reuters)

Marine conservation experts headed to the Australian state of Tasmania on Wednesday, Sept. 21 to attempt to rescue a pod of approximately 230 beached whales, with officials saying only half appeared to be alive.

The animals, which appeared to be pilot whales, were stranded on Ocean Beach, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania said in a statement.

A team of marine wildlife experts will assess the scene and situation to plan an appropriate response, the department said.

Nearly 200 whales have died overnight in a mass stranding in Australia, whilst rescuers rushed to rescue the remaining 35 survivors on Thursday, Sept. 22.

“I think it’s inevitable that we may lose a few more.. They are in a really highly exposed, stressful location,” said operations manager, Kris Carlyon.

The main challenge for rescuers has been lifting the animals up to float them, with pilot whales weighing up to 2.5 tonnes (2.8 tons). Once floated, they are moved by boat to deeper waters and released, to reduce the chances of them becoming re-stranded.

The stranding comes just days after more than a dozen young male sperm whales died in a mass stranding in Tasmania.

The state was also the scene for the biggest beaching in Australia’s modern history two years ago, involving nearly 500 whales. Authorities managed to rescue about 100 of them.

By Reuters. (Production: Jill Gralow, Cordelia Hsu)