SYDNEY: Rescuers faced a race against time to save nearly 200 whales stuck in a remote Australian harbour on Tuesday, hoping to prevent the toll of 90 dead from rising further after managing to free “a small number” of the stranded mammals, reports AFP.
Scientists said two large pods of long-finned pilot whales became stuck on sandbars in Macquarie Harbour, on Tasmania’s rugged and sparsely populated west coast.Images from the scene showed a shallow body of water, thick with scores of the large slick-black mammals manoeuvering for space.
About 60 people—including volunteers and local fish-farm workers—are involved in the rescue attempt and could be seen wading in the water to reach the whales to refloat them in deeper passages.
Government marine biologist Kris Carlyon said “about a third” of the 270 animals were dead by late Monday, and that rescuing survivors would be a “challenging” task likely to take several days.
But there were hopes Tuesday that early rescue efforts were already paying off, according to the official leading the operation.
“We have now freed a small number successfully that appear to have stayed out at sea, and are now scaling up that approach,” Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka said.
They are battling chilly and rainy conditions as well as the harbour’s unusual tides, which are dictated by barometric pressure.