More Than 200 Whales Stranded In Tasmania, Massive Rescue Mission To Begin

On September 20, Marine conservationists were set to launch a massive rescue mission to save a pod of over 275 whales stranded at Macquarie Harbour, in Tasmania. Identified as the pilot whales, the pod was located swimming in the shallow inlet by a sandbar inside Macquarie heads, west of Hobart near Strahan according to local news agencies. Sources of local ABC Australia confirmed that the World Heritage Cruises’ member Guy Grining flew over the Macquarie in a helicopter and found out that at least 25 whales were already dead and had swept on the beach as several others were seen desperately swimming for a way out, stuck on various sandy shoals. 

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and local police scrambled to the ocean as they waited for the whale rescue gear to dive in. DPIPWE spokesperson said in a statement that Marine experts will assess the scene and the request will be made through various avenues for help if needed, basis the severity of the situation. DPIPWE’s Marine Conservation Program lists Tasmania as the only Australian state where whales and dolphins are often stranded, however, the recent incident occurred in more than 10 years. The long-finned pilot whales covered vast scathes of oceanic surface, unable to swim their way out. 

“We will be looking for an outward-going tide when we start rescue mission and efforts to save these gigantic fishes on September 22 morning,” Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service manager, Nic Deka told reporters from the Australian Associated Press.

“That will be in our favour. We’ll be aiming to make the most of that window,” he added. Deka informed that a specialist crew will arrive in Strahan from Hobart.”(They were) flapping around and obviously trying to get themselves off the sandbar. It’s not very nice,” Strahan resident Georgia Grining was quoted by AAP as saying. 

Tasmanian Police and the local authorities instructed the people to ward off from the site. “These are big animals, those that are untrained in managing these incidents can be at risk,” Deka said in an AAP report.

Tasmanians ‘must work together’ 

Premier Peter Gutwein acknowledged the efforts of the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, marine conservation experts, and Tasmania Police. He said, “I have made it very clear to those managing the effort that if additional resources are required, we will not hesitate to organize the support needed.” Further, AAP quoted him saying, “At times like these, Tasmanians work together to respond as quickly and compassionately, and my thoughts are with those assisting with the efforts.”

[Pilot whales lie stranded on a sand bar near Strahan, Australia, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. An estimated 250 whales are stuck on sandy shoals and government marine conservation staff have been deployed to the scene to attempt to rescue the whales. Credit: AP]

(Images Credit: AP)