Image: One of 14 dead sperm whales lies washed up on a beach at King Island, north of Tasmania, Australia, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.
(Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania via AP)
It’s been confirmed a pod of 230 whales is involved in a mass stranding on Tasmania’s West Coast.
The animals, which appear to be pilot whales, are stranded on Ocean Beach.
A number of animals are stranded on a sand flat inside Macquarie Harbour.
A team from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania Marine Conservation Program (MCP) is assembling whale rescue gear and heading to the area.
They’ll work alongside staff from the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service and Tasmanian Police at Strahan.
It’s believed around half of the animals are still alive.
Marine wildlife experts will assess the scene and the situation to plan an appropriate response. Stranding response in this area is complex. If it is determined there is a need for help from the general public, a request will be made through various avenues.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania is reminding locals that whales are a protected species, even once deceased, and it is an offence to interfere with a carcass.
Environmental bodies are responding reports of a mass whale stranding on Tasmania’s West Coast.
It’s unclear how many whales are involved just yet, but comes two years after another mass stranding in 2020.
Rescuers reported 270 whales stranded near the town of Strahan on September 21 that year, a further 200 whales found via helicopter about 10km away in the same harbour.
Officials later confirmed all had died.
It was an environmental tragedy and the largest whale stranding in Australia’s history.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania is responding to the current reported stranding, with more updates to follow.
It comes just one day after reports of a pod of 14 young sperm whales washed ashore on King Island (pictured above).
Marine Conservation Project wildlife biologist Kris Carlyon has told the Mercury it was unclear exactly when the whales died, but that the carcasses appeared to be “quite fresh”.
A team of biologists and a veterinarian are on site and collecting samples from the deceased whales.
Swimmers are being warned to stay away, because the carcasses are likely to attract sharks.