Rescue teams successfully reintroduced 32 pilot whales that survived a mass stranded pod of 230 mighty whales off Tasmania’s west coast.
Thirty-two of the 35 surviving whales resurfaced Thursday, in what rescuers described as a “great result.”
Most of the 230 pilot whales died Wednesday after being stranded on Ocean Beach near Macquarie Harbour, south of Strahan.
Of the 32 whales surfaced on Thursday, two became stranded again and had to be rescued a second time.
The last three surviving whales will resurface on Friday.
“Due to access restrictions … we did not have safe access to three animals today, but we will prioritize them in the morning,” incident manager Brendon Clark told reporters Thursday afternoon.
A rescue team of 50 used mechanical aids to lift the animals from the dry sand and back into the water.
Clark said the new refloat technology was a “huge success.”
“The ground crew basically said that without it we wouldn’t have had the success and accomplishments we have today,” he said.
“It will certainly be the strategy and methodology that we will use going forward.”
Post-mortem investigations of about 200 whales that died in mass strandings were already underway.
“We have veterinarians in the department who are watching the animals more closely,” wildlife biologist Dr. Chris Carrion told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s about ruling out potential illnesses or health problems that could have stranded the animals.
“I don’t expect to find anything like that. These mass stranding events are usually the result of accidental arrivals on shore.”
Plans for the removal and disposal of the corpse are underway.
“Our first option is to longline the carcass to deep water,” Clark said.
“At the moment, the applicable weather conditions look like Sunday, so we are looking for opportunities to get them as far from the coast as possible.”
The stranding is the second in days since 14 dead sperm whales washed up on South Australia’s King Island on Monday.
Possible causes include changes in weather and water temperature.
The incident near Macquarie Harbor came two years after the worst shipwreck in U.S. history occurred at the same location.
Around 470 pilot whales washed up on shore at Macquarie Harbor, killing the majority.
There have been previous reports of sperm whales and dolphins stranded at the same spot.