Around 200 pilot dolphins or pilot whales have perished after washing up on an exposed, wave-swept beach on Tasmania’s rugged west coast, Australian rescuers said Thursday (September 22nd). AFP (Gédéon Richard) • Published on September 22, 2022 at 3:28 p.m., updated on September 22, 2022 at 4:07 p.m. Only 35 of the approximately 230 cetaceans discovered the day before on a Tasmanian beach were still alive on Thursday September 22. This macabre tally was made by Brendon Clark, director of operations for the state wildlife service, during a press conference held for journalists present at the scene. Aerial footage shows dozens of shiny black mammals stranded on Ocean Beach, along a wide sandy beach in contact with the cold waters of the Southern Ocean. “On the beach, we still have about 35 animals still alive and this morning, the main objective will be to save them and free them”, counts Brendon Clark. “Unfortunately, the mortality rate for this stranding is high. It is mainly due to the conditions on Ocean Beach”, he underlines. “The environmental conditions, the surf on the exposed west coast (…) certainly have consequences for the animals”, adds the director of operations. Residents had covered the cetaceans with blankets and doused them with buckets of water to keep them alive after they were found on the beach on Wednesday. The cetaceans are stranded near Macquarie Harbour, the scene, almost two years ago to the day, of another massive stranding, involving nearly 500 stranded pilot dolphins. More than 300 of them were then dead, despite the efforts of dozens of volunteers who struggled for days in the freezing waters of Tasmania to free the animals. Brendon Clark reckons conditions are tougher this year than two years ago, as the animals were in “much more sheltered waters.” Rescuers have triaged the cetaceans to assess which ones have the best chance of survival, he said. “Today the focus will be on rescue operations and their release.” The reasons for these large strandings are not fully known. Researchers have suggested they could be caused by groups of cetaceans straying after feeding too close to shore.
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