More than 50 pilot whales die after mass stranding in Australia

Cheynes, Australia - A pod of more than 50 pilot whales has died following a mass stranding on a beach in Western Australia.

More than 50 pilot whales have perished in a mass stranding on a beach in Western Australia (stock image).
More than 50 pilot whales have perished in a mass stranding on a beach in Western Australia (stock image).  © 123RF/reinerconrad

Fifty-one whales died overnight after stranding on Tuesday at Cheynes Beach, some 280 miles south-east of Perth, Parks and Wildlife Service said on Wednesday.

Rescue efforts were underway to return a further 46 whales to deeper water.

The service said it had been overwhelmed with hundreds of offers of help to rescue the stranded whales.

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"We understand the public's concern and appreciate the support from volunteers and organisations," it said.

"The priority focus of the Incident Management Team is to ensure the safety of staff and volunteers and the welfare of the whales. The response zone has a range of hazards, including large, distressed and potentially sick whales, sharks, waves, heavy machinery and vessels."

The pod was spotted off the coast late on Monday and spent most of Tuesday huddled together, prompting fears of a stranding.

In September 2020, around 470 long-finned pilot whales were found stranded across four sites at Macquarie Heads on Tasmania's west coast – the largest mass stranding on record in Australia.

Pilot whales are among the species most frequently involved in mass strandings in Australia.

Cover photo: 123RF/reinerconrad

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