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Short finned pilot whale euthanised after re-stranding near Augusta

25 March 2018

More than 150 short-finned pilot whales were found beached on an Australian shore Friday - only about 15 of which survived, officials said.

Short-finned pilot whales live in tropical waters around the world, usually in deep offshore regions.

About 150 whales were spotted on the beach by a fisherman at 6.00am on Friday after washing up about one kilometre north of the boat ramp at the beach, 10 kilometres north of Augusta.

As of Friday afternoon, only 15 whales were alive, and a rescue operation was under way to try to herd them back to sea. So far, the remaining six whales appear to have survived although incident controller Jeremy Chick said they could attempt to beach themselves at another location.

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The carcasses are being removed and authorities are taking DNA samples in a bid to understand why the whales beached. "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 Department of Fisheries issued a shark alert because the mammals could attract marine predators.

Despite rescue efforts, only five of the stranded whales survived the ordeal.

"I think it's absolutely incredible, I've never seen something like this: so many whales together on a beach", said tourist Barrie Brickle.

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The whales were freed by authorities at Hamelin Bay, south of Perth, with the help of vets and more than 100 volunteers, reports the Guardian.

The rescue crew is also working to remove the deceased whales from the beach.

While the actual reason for mass stranding is still uncertain.

The tendency of mass stranding in pilot whales is common phenomena in Hamelin Bay.

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The largest stranding incident happened in 1918 on the shore of Chatham Island, almost 1000 pilot whales stranded. Last year, more than 400 long-finned pilot whales beached themselves in New Zealand; volunteers there were able to save 100 of the animals in time.

Short finned pilot whale euthanised after re-stranding near Augusta