Quantcast
Connect with us

At least 380 whales dead in Australia mass stranding

Published

on

Hundreds of whales have died in Tasmania's biggest mass stranding, with rescuers racing to save a few dozen animals stuck on a sandbar - POOL/AFP

At least 380 whales have died in a mass stranding in southern Australia, officials said Wednesday, with rescuers managing to free just a few dozen survivors.

Nearly the entire pod of 460 long-finned pilot whales stuck in Macquarie Harbor, on the rugged and sparsely populated west coast of Tasmania, has now perished.

“We have got a more accurate count and we can confirm that 380 whales are dead,” Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“There’s around 30 left still alive but the good news is that we have saved 50,” he said, describing the rescue effort as emotionally taxing.

The first of the giant mammals were found on Monday, sparking a major effort to free them from a sandbar only accessible by boat.

It is the largest mass stranding ever recorded in Tasmania, an island state off mainland Australia’s south coast, and likely the biggest in the country’s history.

A rescue crew of 60 conservationists, skilled volunteers and local fish farm workers has concentrated efforts on a group of whales partially submerged in the water.

The rescuers have spent two days wading in the cold shallows to free the still living creatures, using boats fitted with special slings to guide them back to the open ocean.

ADVERTISEMENT

They are now racing to free as many of the 30 remaining live whales as possible.

“They’re focused on the job — it’s demanding work, some of them are up to their chest in cold water so we’re trying to rotate the crews,” Deka said.

“Its very draining physically. It’s also draining emotionally.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The whales have been found stranded up to 10 kilometers (six miles) apart, and officials have now expanded their search area to see if more of the mammals are stuck nearby.

Some of the whales rescued Tuesday re-stranded overnight, in line with predictions by whale behavior experts, but Deka remained upbeat about the immediate prospects for those that remained in the ocean.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The good news is the majority of whales that were rescued are still out in deep water and swimming,” he told reporters in the nearby town of Strahan.

“They haven’t stranded. So we’ve been more successful than not.”

The causes of mass strandings remain unknown — even to scientists who have been studying the phenomenon for decades.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, some researchers have suggested the highly sociable pilot whales may have gone off track after feeding close to the shoreline or by following one or two whales that strayed.

Tasmanian environment department marine biologist Kris Carlyon said it was a “natural event” with strandings of the species occurring regularly throughout history in both southern Australian and neighboring New Zealand.

“We do step in and respond in these situations, but as far as being able to prevent these occurring in the future, there’s really little that we can do,” he said.

Carlyon said animal welfare issues were a major reason authorities and conservationists intervened in mass strandings, along with public expectations and the ability to learn more about a species.

ADVERTISEMENT

It would have been a “hugely stressful” experience for the whales that were freed, he said, but past events showed they were likely to thrive in the wild.

“We have shown fairly conclusively that animals will regroup, they will reform those social bonds, and they will — at least in the short- to medium-term for the duration that they’ve been tracked — demonstrate normal and natural behavior,” Carlyon said.

Officials will now turn their attention to the disposal of the whale carcasses, with assessors arriving onsite Wednesday to create a clean-up plan.

“As time goes on (the whales) do become more fatigued so their chances of survival reduces,” Deka said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“But we’ll keep working as long as there’s live animals at the site.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

The Arab uprisings were weakened by online fakes

Published

on

The Arab uprisings a decade ago were supercharged by online calls to join the protests -- but the internet was soon flooded with misinformation, weakening the region's cyber-activists.

When Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in January 2011, rumours and uncertainty created "panic and hysteria", said ex-activist and entrepreneur Houeida Anouar.

"January 14 was a horrible night, so traumatic," she said. "We heard gunfire, and a neighbour shouted 'hide yourselves, they're raping women'."

As pro-regime media pumped out misinformation, the flood of bogus news also spread to the internet, a space activists had long seen as a refuge from censorship and propaganda.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Dr. Fauci warns of post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge in US

Published

on

The United States is the worst-affected country, with 266,074 Covid-19 deaths, and President Donald Trump's administration has issued conflicting messages on mask-wearing, travel and the danger posed by the virus.

"There almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel," Fauci told CNN's "State of the Union."

Travel surrounding Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday made this the busiest week in US airports since the pandemic began.

"We may see a surge upon a surge" in two or three weeks, Fauci added. "We don't want to frighten people, but that's the reality."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Sidney Powell’s new election lawsuit cites election experts she won’t even name: legal expert

Published

on

President Donald Trump's former election lawyer, Sidney Powell, has filed her lawsuit in Georgia suing Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) for what she says is a fraudulent election.

But lawyer Mike Dunford explained that it doesn't exactly work that way. Reading through Powell's court document "Emergency Motion for Declaratory, Emergency, and Permanent Injunctive Relief and Memorandum in Support Thereof."

"If you want emergency relief it is very helpful to be as clear and concise as humanly possible," he explained. "Pointing the court back to your 100+ page complaint with its 29 exhibits isn't how that is best done. To put it very mildly."

Continue Reading