51 pilots whales have died on the beaches of Western Australia – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

51 pilots whales have died on the beaches of Western Australia

Image source: RTE

More than 50 pilot whales have died hours after being stranded on a beach in Western Australia, and authorities say they are trying to save dozens more, reports RTE.

A pod of about 100 longfin pilot whales were spotted last night on Cheyennes Beach near Albany, about 400km southeast of Perth.

The volunteers were joined by experts from the State Parks and Wildlife Service, who braved the freezing temperatures and worked through the night to monitor the whales.

The services confirmed this morning that 51 animals had died.

The agency said it was now working with volunteers to try to save the remaining 46 whales, planning to take them to deeper water during the day, reports RTE.

Footage of the scene showed volunteers, many in wetsuits, busily helping the mammals they had washed ashore.

A Parks and Wildlife Service spokeswoman said she was “overwhelmed with hundreds of offers of help”, but that it had enough volunteers and the public should “stay away” from the beach “for safety reasons”, reports RTE.

“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,” they said, reports RTE.

Scientists don’t fully understand why mass strandings occur, but female pilots, who can grow to over six meters in length, are very sociable, so they can follow stray mates in distress.

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