Over 380 whales dead in mass stranding

Largest such incident in Australia.

At least 380 whales have died in a mass stranding in southern Australia, officials said on Wednesday, as hopes faded of saving more than a few dozen of those creatures still trapped.

Nearly the entire pod of 460 long-finned pilot whales stuck in Macquarie Harbour — on the rugged and sparsely populated west coast of Tasmania — has now perished. “We can confirm that 380 whales are dead,” said Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka, describing the three-day operation as emotionally and physically taxing. “There’s around 30 left [that are] still alive, but the good news is that we have saved 50,” he said.

The incident is believed to be the largest mass stranding ever recorded in Australia, and is among the largest in the world. The first of the giant mammals were discovered on Monday, sparking a major effort to free them from sandbars and beaches that are only accessible by boats. A crew of 60 conservationists, skilled volunteers and local fish farm workers are engaged in the rescue efforts . The whales have been found stranded across an area 10 kilometres long, and the search area has been expanded to see if more of the mammals are stuck nearby.

The causes of mass strandings remain unknown even to scientists who have been studying the phenomenon for decades.

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