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More than 100 stranded whales die on Australian beach

As of Friday afternoon, only 15 whales were alive. A rescue operation was underway to try and herd them back to sea.

world Updated: Mar 23, 2018 15:13 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press, Perth
Australia whales,Australian beach,Hamelin Bay
Short-finned pilot whales who became beached at Hamelin Bay, in Western Australia's south, on Friday. (AP Photo )

More than 150 whales have become stranded in Hamelin Bay in western Australia, and only 15 of them were still alive on Friday, authorities said.

The mammals are believed to be short-finned pilot whales.

The stranded animals were first spotted by a commercial fisherman early on Friday morning.

As of Friday afternoon, only 15 whales were alive. A rescue operation was underway to try and herd them back to sea. Authorities say palliative care will be administered where necessary.

Stranded whales on the beach at Hamelin Bay in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS)

“I think it’s absolutely incredible, I have never seen anything like it, seen so many whales beached like this,” said Barrie Brickle, a tourist visiting the area.

A shark alert has been issued by the fisheries department as the stranded whales might attract the ocean predators.

“Unfortunately, most of the whales beached themselves on dry land overnight and have not survived,” rescue team leader Jeremy Chick said. “Rescue operations will be hampered by deteriorating weather conditions and we need to ensure the safety of everyone involved before we move the whales.”

The carcasses were being removed from the beach, with Parks and Wildlife Service officers taking DNA samples in an attempt to collect clues about why whales strand.

In 2009, more than 80 whales and dolphins died on a beach in Hamelin Bay.

The biggest mass stranding of whales in Western Australia happened in 1996 in Dunsborough. That year, 320 long-finned pilot whales beached themselves.

First Published: Mar 23, 2018 15:12 IST