Posted by: The ocean update | March 24, 2018

Major clean-up operation (as waste material !) after mass whale stranding at Hamelin Bay near Augusta (Australia)

If left to decay the carcasses could cause environmental and safety issues. Photo James Carmody

March 24th, 2018 (Elva Darnell). Almost all of the 150 short-finned pilot whales that stranded at Hamelin Bay — about 300 kilometres south of Perth — are now dead.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife confirmed that two more whales had been slaughtered after restranding.

The mass stranding in Western Australia’s south-west led to the deaths of almost 150 whales.

A spokesperson for the Department of Parks and Wildlife said there had been an extensive sea, air and ground search and no other whales had been sighted alive.

Most of the whale carcasses have been removed and disposed of in landfill but two whales remain stranded in inaccessible terrain, with the plans underway to remove the carcasses.

Four whales managed to be pushed to deeper waters and they have not yet been sighted — but there are fears they could restrand.

It is one of the largest mass strandings of its kind.

More than 100 volunteers were involved in the rescue.

All closures remain in place and authorities are warning of an increased risk of sharks in the area.

Perth man Luke Henry went down to the beach on Saturday morning, only to be confronted by the sight of carcasses being loaded onto trucks.

“It’s not pleasant to see.”

DNA taken for database

Parks and Wildlife officers have taken biological specimens from the dead and surviving whales in an effort to learn more about the elusive species.

Spokesman Ben Tannock said the samples would be used to help build a database on the animals.

Ed Sibylline : and what about a necropsy ?

Shallow waters tricky for deep water whales

Joshua Smith from Murdoch University’s Cetacean Research Unit said comparatively little was known about pilot whales because the animals spent most of their time in deep water.

“There’s an aspect of this whole stranding problem that we might not be getting at simply because of the social behaviour side of things,” Dr Smith said.

He said the natural features of Hamelin Bay may also have played a role in the strandings.

“Pilot whales [are] typically an offshore species that is diving in water of several hundred meters, so they’re not as familiar with shallow environments, and that can potentially get them into trouble,” he said.

On the same day of Friday’s stranding in 2009 more than 80 pilot whales and dolphins died in a mass stranding at the same location.

More than 20 whales were also stranded near the south-west town of Bunbury in 2015.

The whale carcasses will be taken to a landfill site. Photo Rebecca Trigger

Authorities say not a lot is known about the short-finned pilot whales. Photo James Carmody



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