After a difficult day, only 32 of the 226 pilot dolphins stranded on the Tasmanian coast were rescued on Wednesday, the wildlife service said. Although these fibers are not uncommon, human activities can exacerbate the phenomenon.
About 200 pilot dolphins washed up on a beach in Tasmania, an island south of Australia, on Wednesday. Grounded in difficult conditions, rescuers managed to save only 32 of the 226 pilot whales.
“We’re refloating mammals that have been deemed fit for release,” said marine biologist Sam Thalmann.
“All pilot dolphins released are tagged,” he added. “Unfortunately there may be a few who become stranded, but we expect the majority to make their way back to sea.”
While waiting for help to arrive, residents rallied: covering the marine mammals with blankets and spraying them with buckets of seawater to keep them alive. Unfortunately, many have already died.
Aerial footage showed dozens of shiny black animals stranded on the seashore, on a vast sandy beach that interacts with the cold waters of the Southern Ocean.
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High mortality rate
“Unfortunately, the fatality rate for this wave is high. This is mainly due to the conditions at Ocean Beach,” said Brendan Clarke, who heads the operations.
“The environmental conditions, the exposed West Coast, Ocean Beach, certainly have consequences for the animals,” he added.
Efforts will now turn to the substantial work of disposing of the bodies of these cetaceans, which must be done safely.
This is because carcasses left in shallow water or on beaches can attract sharks or spread disease.
“Valuable biological samples” must be taken from the animals to better understand why they are stranded there.
500 cetaceans stranded
Macquarie Harbour, close to where the event took place, was the scene of another mass stranding almost two years to the day involving nearly 500 pilot dolphins.
Despite the efforts of dozens of volunteers who struggled for days in Tasmania’s freezing waters to free the animals, more than 300 of them died.
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