Rescuers are racing against time to save lives as 270 pilot whales were stranded off the west coast of Australia’s Tasmania and about one-third of them have died.
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment in Tasmania said in a statement on Tuesday that experts have mapped out the rescue response over the coming days in relation to the state’s mass whale stranding.
There are currently 60 people involved in the rescue efforts on-site. Marine Conservation Program wildlife biologist Dr. Kris Carlyon said marine conservation experts are trying to refloat the animals and assess behaviour.
“A lot of the rescue efforts will depend on how these animals respond once they have water underneath them,” Carlyon said.
“Triage is going to be quite important here. We have got animals over a large area and in a really challenging location so we are going to take the animals with the best chance to start with and the ones we are able to deal with.”
Carlyon said a third of the animals have already died, and the rescue efforts are likely to take days, depending on weather and tide conditions. However, he is confident the remaining whales could survive for a few days.
“These are long-finned pilot whales, they are quite a robust species. They are wet, they are cool, and today we have some really suitable weather for them,” Carlyon said.
“If conditions stay the same they can survive for quite a few days. The challenge will be what to do with those animals once they are refloated. Will we have to herd them out or will we have to move them by some other means.”
Carlyon said the state may get the strongest tides in a couple of days, “that will be an opportunity we try to take maximum advantage of.”