Nearly 400 Pilot Whales have Died in a Mass Stranding in Australia

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Pilot Whales Mass Stranding in Australia.

About 380 whales have already died in Australia’s worst stranding on record. Tasmania’s government said 88 of the animals had been rescued so far and have been released into deep water. Some of the whales have to be euthanised, based on animal welfare grounds.

The pilot whales washed up on sand spits in the sea around an area called Macquarie Heads. The stranding is one of the largest ever recorded and eclipses a previous national record of 320 whales beached in Western Australia in 1996.

There is close to 400 dead whales on the Tasmanian beach, so the focus is now on what to do with the carcasses. The animals’ bodies could either be left at the beach, buried there, taken to a landfill, or taken out to sea. Wildlife services have said their preference is for disposal at sea. However, this can cause multiple problems, impacting other marine life and navigational hazards.

It is not fully understood why the whales became stranded but pilot whales are known to be more prone to getting beached. They are not considered endangered, although exact population numbers are not known. Macquarie Harbour is a known hotspot for pilot whale strandings, which frequently occur in shallow, sloping and sandy areas. The topography forms natural whale traps. Reports show that beaching is usually the result of sickness or injury, topography, Bad weather, old age, and navigation errors. Hunting too close to shore also contribute to beachings.

Some whale and dolphin species are more prone to mass beachings. Toothed whales such as the pilot whale, are the most commonly affected.

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