Over 100 Pilot Whales Dead In Mass Stranding In Western Australia
More than 130 whales have died after a huge stranding on the West Australian Coast.
Roughly 150 short-finned pilot whales washed ashore on the beach at Hamelin Bay, near Perth, on Friday morning.
A rescue operation has been undertaken to save the remaining live whales, and a warning has been issued to bathers and surfers that the creatures are likely to attract sharks.
Volunteers and vets are fighting to save the last few survivors before they can be safely herded back into the open sea.
It's all hands on deck at Hamelin Bay. @WAParksWildlife plan to use an excavator and a sling to move the surviving whales out to deeper water this afternoon. @abcsouthwestwa @abcperth pic.twitter.com/0VZGJ6YlyE
- Gian De Poloni (@GianDePoloni) March 23, 2018
A witness has spoken of how they tried to rescue one whale by pointing it back out to sea, only for it to beach itself again.
The rescue operation is being controlled by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions (DBCA) controller Jeremy Chick, who has asked for members of the public to stay away from the bay as there are already enough people on the scene.
He spoke of the priorities being to help the remaining whales stay alive and to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the rescue effort, adding: "Unfortunately, most of the whales beached themselves on dry land overnight and have not survived,
"There are only [a few] surviving in shallow waters and we hope to move them out to sea later today.
A shark warning has been issued for Hamelin Bay in Western Australia after more than 150 whales washed up on the beach early this morning. :disappointed_relieved: https://t.co/xbRl9SjmD4 pic.twitter.com/xsGsmkESc3
- news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) March 23, 2018
He continued: "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 rescuers face a race against time to get the whales back out to sea as weather forecasters expect bad weather to set in soon because of swells caused by Tropical Cyclone Marcus.
Ben Tannock, the visitor service co-ordinator for Hamelin Bay said: "We're obviously managing the animals and the palliative care of those animals, and the rescue of the animals that are still alive, if possible.
"Obviously in these certain incidents there's high requirement to manage the public interaction as well. It becomes quite an emotive issue and the public will themselves want to get involved.
DBCA officers report 3.0m unknown sp. shark sighted 09:40hrs 23/03, Hamelin Bay 100m offshore
- Surf Life Saving WA (@SLSWA) March 23, 2018
"It is certainly terrific to have them on site, but they need to work under the guidance of Parks and Wildlife Services staff and make sure the incident is controlled and managed properly."
Large groups of dead and dying animals can also attract sharks, and one three-metre-long shark has already been spotted nearby.
A shark alert has been issued for the area, and Hamelin beach has been closed while the operation continues.
Featured Image Credit: PA