Australian authorities on Friday warned of the risk of sailing because of 380 pilot whales killed off the coast of Tasmania, while preparations are underway to remove the corpses.
“We warn all sailors that dead whales in Macquarie Bay can be dragged by the current (…), which can create a danger to navigation,” the maritime safety agency said on its page from Tasmania, South Australia on the social network Facebook.
Teams against the clock to save 20 whales in Australia. Nearly 400 died
Authorities are studying several ways to eliminate the large numbers of cetaceans, which can grow to over six meters and weigh 2.5 tonnes, being the most viable option for transporting them on the high seas. In addition to the risk to navigation, corpses can attract predators, such as sharks, and can also pose a danger to people.
Around 500 pilot whales have been found stranded off the Australian coast in recent days, the largest such incident recorded in the country.
The incident, considered an environmental tragedy, began on Monday when authorities spotted the first 270 pilot whales washed up on a beach and two sandbars near the remote town of Strahan on the island state’s west coast. from Tasmania. .
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On Wednesday, 200 more whales were found dead, less than ten kilometers to the south. After several days of intense work, rescue teams managed to save 88 cetaceans. Local authorities said on Thursday they had to sacrifice four whales to save them from further suffering after being rescued, but found themselves once again stranded in shallow areas.
Tasmania is the only region in Australia prone to massive stranding, although this does occasionally occur on the Australian mainland. The biggest such incident in Australia happened in 1996, when 320 pilot whales ran aground near the town of Dunsborough, Western Australia, in 1996.
It is the first in Tasmania since 2009 that involves more than 50 whales. In neighboring New Zealand, more than 600 pilot whales arrived on the South Island at Farewell Spit in 2017.