Mass whale stranding at Hamelin Bay in Western Australia

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Some 150 whales were found stranded on a beach at Hamelin Bay in Western Australia on Friday morning, March 23, 2018. The event prompted major rescue effort, but only 15 of them remain alive.

Only about 15 of the 150 short-finned pilot whales that stranded at Hamelin Bay, 10 km (6.2 miles) N of Augusta, Western Australia are still alive, the PerthNow reports, adding that Parks and Wildlife Service staff with veterinary assistance and support of Sea Search and Rescue, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) as well as trained volunteers are working to ensure the welfare of the surviving whales.

“Most of the whales beached themselves on dry land overnight and have not survived,” Incident Controller Jeremy Chick said. “There are only 15 surviving in shallow waters and we hope to move them out to sea later today. Rescue operations will be hampered by deteriorating, weather conditions and we need to ensure the safety of everyone involved before we move the whales.”

Authorities have issued a shark alert for the area, warning people to stay away from the area.

While scientists do not know exactly what caused the whales to beach themselves, the usual reasons are sickness, injury, navigational errors and other factors like manmade noise, naval activity, earthquakes etc.

The last reported earthquake in this region took place on March 16, some 150 km (93 miles) to the East of today’s stranding location – M2.6 at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles).

It is interesting to note that today marks exactly nine years since more than 70 whales stranded and died at the same beach.

The largest stranding in the history of Western Australia took place in 1996 when about 320 long-finned whales stranded themselves in Dunsborough.

Featured image: Mass whale stranding at Hamelin Bay, Western Australia – March 23, 2018. Credit: Western Australia Parks and Wildlife

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