Pilot Whales Beached In Tasmania With Almost 400 Dead In Australia's Worst Mass Stranding

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Pilot Whales Beached In Tasmania With Almost 400 Dead In Australia's Worst Mass Stranding

In tragic news, 380 pilot whales have died in what is Australia's largest ever recorded whale beaching. The incident occurred on the western coast of the island of Tasmania, the large island that sits to the south of the Australian mainland.

Beaching occurs when whales go off course and end up coming out of the water and becoming stranded on the shore. Due to being stuck on the beach, they end up dying from thirst, hunger and exposure. Why whales go off course in the first place is a matter of scientific debate and there is no defined consensus on the matter.

It is however suspected that pilot whales are more susceptible to beaching due to their highly social nature and the fact that they will follow each other closely. If the lead whale heads into an area of danger, many others will follow.

The Western Tasmanian coast is a known hotspot for whales becoming beached and, it is estimated that as many as 80% of all whales that do become beached in Australia do so on the Tasmanian coast. The largest previous recorded incident involved 294 pilot whales in 1935. In 2009, the most recent mass incident, 200 whales came ashore.

On this occasion, rescuers were able to save about 50 of the whales. In order to save them, a team of 60 people had to use slings and mechanical equipment to move the huge animals, which can grow up to 22ft (7 metres) long and weigh as much as 3 tonnes.

Tom Mountney, a volunteer rescuer, told the BBC:

"Geographically it's quite a challenging area. It's sort of inside an actual harbour so we've got several boats and hundreds of people on the ground preparing the whales in slings. They are remarkably calm. Some of them obviously, being a several ton animal, are quite strong so there's inherent danger in dealing with them. But it's as if there's a bit of a sense of them knowing what we're trying to do."

While many of the surviving creatures were exhausted by the ordeal, it is thought that most will make a full recovery once back in the water and rested.

Pilot whale numbers have been declining. It is thought that there exists a global population of around 1.2 million pilot whales, including the two most common types, the long-finned and the short-finned.

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Thinking Humanity: Pilot Whales Beached In Tasmania With Almost 400 Dead In Australia's Worst Mass Stranding
Pilot Whales Beached In Tasmania With Almost 400 Dead In Australia's Worst Mass Stranding
380 pilot whales have died in what is Australia's largest ever recorded whale beaching. The incident occurred on the western coast of Tasmania.
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