In Australia Mass Whale Stranding, a Better Than Usual Outcome

More than 100 pilot whales returned to sea, while 29 died on shore
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 25, 2024 1:50 PM CDT
Rescuers Save Over 100 Beached Pilot Whales
A pod of pilot whales stranded on a beach at Toby's Inlet in Western Australia, Thursday, April 25, 2024.   (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions via AP)

More than 100 long-finned pilot whales that beached on the western Australian coast Thursday have returned to sea, while 29 died on the shore, reports the AP. Ships and a spotter plane were monitoring the rescued whales in case they returned to shore, said wildlife officer Pia Courtis. "So far so good, they haven't made it back to shore, but we will keep monitoring them," Courtis said. Local whale researcher Ian Wiese joined hundreds of volunteers who helped rescue the whales at Toby's Inlet near the tourist town of Dunsborough.

"When I first arrived, there was, I think, 160 in the water—almost out of the water—and there were a couple of hundred people who were with the whales, they were trying to comfort them and make sure that their heads were out of the water so they could breathe. And then after an hour or so, all of a sudden the ones that were in the water that were still alive left and went out to sea," Wiese said. In July, almost 100 long-finned pilot whales died or were euthanized after a two-day rescue attempt in a mass stranding on Cheynes Beach. Wiese said Thursday was the third mass stranding he had responded to and the result was by far the best. "It's been a very good story today because normally with these sorts of strandings, you wind up with a 100 whales beaching and five or six being saved," Wiese said.

Marine scientist Holly Raudino said tissue samples had been taken from the dead whales to exclude potential causes of the stranding, in particular infectious disease. Scientists don't know what causes whales to strand, although it appears their location systems can be confused by gently sloping, sandy beaches. Theories include that they are avoiding predators such as killer whales, or following a sick leader ashore. Human-made undersea noise could also interfere with their navigation.

(More beached whale stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.