Mystery as HUNDREDS of endangered whales wash up on a remote Australian beach for a SECOND day – and the bizarre timing of the tragedy is shocking
- Hundreds of whales reportedly stranded on Tasmania’s west coast
- The whales were discovered near Macquarie Harbour, south of Strahan
- It comes just two days after 14 sperm whales washed up on King Island
Hundreds of whales have washed ashore after being stranded on Tasmania’s west coast – two years after Australia’s biggest stranding on record at the same location.
Wednesday’s mass grounding happened near Macquarie Harbour, south of Strahan, officials from the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment confirmed.
It comes just two days after 14 sperm whales died after washing up on King Island off the northwest coast of Tasmania in a marine mystery that is baffling experts.
Hundreds of whales are believed to be stranded in Macquarie Harbor (pictured) near Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania
The mass grounding comes two days after 14 sperm whales washed up on King Island (photo courtesy of NRE Tas)
The whale carcasses were found in a local fishing area off the west coast of the island on Monday (photo courtesy of NRE Tas)
The whales, which were all young males, were discovered on Monday afternoon at a local fishing spot.
Wildlife biologists and a veterinarian are still investigating how the pod washed up – with theories ranging from warmer temperatures to seismic activity in the area.
Today’s stranding comes two years after Australia’s largest mass whale stranding, which also happened near Macquarie Harbor in Tasmania.
More than 470 pilot whales washed up off the coast as rescuers at the time battled to save the few survivors.
Of the 470 that stranded, at least 380 whales died.
The search effort was initially launched after 270 whales were spotted thrashing around in shallow water.
Rescuers were hampered by extremely cold temperatures and rain.
Theories on why sperm whales got stranded on Monday
It was quite unusual for sperm whales to wash up on shore, Griffith University marine scientist Dr Olaf Meynecke told the Australian Associated Press.
“Have these animals been sick or have they been hit by something?” said Dr. Meynecke.
“We know there is massive seismic activity planned throughout the area for oil and gas exploration, so I’m not sure if there has been any seismic activity.
“There may also be natural geomagnetic changes that could impact these animals.”
Warmer temperatures could also alter ocean currents and displace the whale’s traditional food sources, Dr Meynecke said.
“They will go to different areas and look for different sources of food,” he said.
“When they do this they are not in the best physical condition because they could starve to death which can cause them to take more risks and possibly get closer to shore.”
Wildlife scientist Vanessa Pirotta said what prompted the whales to head for shore remained “a complete mystery”.
“We just don’t know why this is happening,” she told the ABC.
“That’s the million dollar question every time this kind of thing happens.”
Dr Pirotta said the grounding could have been caused by a navigational error, or band following a whale heading for the shore.
Wildlife scientist Vanessa Pirotta said what prompted the whales to head for shore remained “a complete mystery”, but navigational error was a possibility
The whales were young males, according to Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment said it was not unusual to see sperm whales in the King Island area where the first stranding occurred this week.
“It is not unusual for sperm whales to be sighted in Tasmania and the area where the whales have stranded is within normal sperm whale beach and habitat,” a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
“Although further investigations have not yet been conducted, it is possible that the whales are part of the same bachelor group – a group of younger male sperm whales mating together after leaving the maternal group.”
Parks and Wildlife Service personnel monitor the scene.
Swimmers and surfers have also been warned to avoid the west coast of King Island as whale carcasses could attract sharks.
MCP wildlife biologists and a veterinarian are on King Island to investigate the stranding
The department said it was not unusual to see sperm whales off King Island
The string of strandings comes exactly two years after the largest whale stranding in Australian history, which also happened near Macquarie Harbour.
More than 470 pilot whales have washed ashore off Tasmania. At least 380 dead
Rescue teams attempted to save the few remaining whales still alive
Stranded whales most often die of dehydration.
The animals have a very thick layer of fat that keeps them warm in high sea temperatures, but causes them to overheat quickly near the surface.
A stranded whale can also be crushed to death by its own weight, without water supporting it, or if stranded in deep water, it can drown if its blowholes are covered.
Massive whale strandings occur relatively often in Tasmania.