Tragedy as around 90 pilot whales die after becoming stranded on a sandbar off Tasmania – with 180 more left fighting for life

  • Pod of 270 pilot whales became stranded on a sandbar on Tasmania’s west coast 
  • The whales are spread across two sandbars and a beach at Macquarie Heads 
  • Early morning rescue mission launched on Tuesday with outward-going tide 

Dozens of pilot whales have died after becoming stranded on a sandbar on Tasmania’s West Coast.

Rescuers have been desperately trying to save the pod of 270 whales who became became stuck on Monday morning. 

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service’s Nic Deka said progress has been slow, with conditions and the half-submerged whales making rescue efforts tricky.

The desperate rescue effort continues to save a massive pod of whales (pictured) who became stranded on a sandbar at Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania on Monday morning

The desperate rescue effort continues to save a massive pod of whales (pictured) who became stranded on a sandbar at Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania on Monday morning

About one third of the whales had already died as of Monday evening and most were inaccessible by boat.

About one third of the whales had already died as of Monday evening and most were inaccessible by boat.

‘This morning’s phase will be critical in determining what is possible,’ he told reporters on Tuesday.

‘Basically we’ll take the animals with the best chance to start with and the ones that we are able to deal with.

‘Some animals may be simply too big or in an unsuitable location.’

Mr Deka said about one third of the whales had already died as of Monday evening and most were inaccessible by boat.

‘In terms of mass strandings in Tasmania, this is the trickiest we’ve had to deal with,’ he added, saying the mission could take days.

About 60 people are helping with the rescue, including 40 parks and wildlife staff and personnel from nearby fish farms, which have supplied boats.

Mr Deka said pilot whales were a robust species and the survivors have a chance of lasting several days on the sandbars if the weather stays cool.

‘It’s ugly for people on the ground but as far as the whales go, it’s ideal,’ he said.

The whales got into trouble on Monday morning but the rescue couldn’t begin until marine specialists were able to survey the scene.

The whales got into trouble on Monday morning but the rescue couldn't begin until marine specialists were able to survey the scene.

The whales got into trouble on Monday morning but the rescue couldn’t begin until marine specialists were able to survey the scene.

Of the 270 pilot whales believed to be stranded (pictured), around 25 have sadly already died

Of the 270 pilot whales believed to be stranded (pictured), around 25 have sadly already died 

Marine experts are assessing the situation with further updates expected throughout the day

Marine experts are assessing the situation with further updates expected throughout the day

Mr Deka said multiple rescue methods would be trialled and a lot would depend on how the whales respond.

It is understood to be the biggest mass stranding in Tasmania in more than a decade.

Mr Deka said the social pilot whales, which travel in groups of up to 1000, could have been drawn close to the coast to feed or because the pod followed the misadventure of a few individuals. 

Long-finned pilot whales are most frequently involved in mass strandings in Tasmania. 

It is understood to be the biggest mass stranding in Tasmania in more than a decade.

It is understood to be the biggest mass stranding in Tasmania in more than a decade.

The stranded pod of pilot whales (pictured on Monday) spread across two sandbars and a beach off Tasmania's west coast

The stranded pod of pilot whales (pictured on Monday) spread across two sandbars and a beach off Tasmania’s west coast

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