Only a few dozen of the 470 whales stranded on Australia’s coast can still be saved, rescuers warned
Australian rescuers were forced Thursday to begin euthanising some surviving whales from a mass stranding that has already killed 380 members of the giant pod.
While 88 pilot whales have been saved since the pod was discovered beached on Tasmania’s rugged western seaboard four days ago, the death toll is expected to rise as the window for rescue closes.
“We still have a few more live animals that we think are going to be viable to move,” said Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka, praising the hard “yakka” (work) of rescuers who will continue until nightfall and into Friday.
“There is a likelihood that we’ll be continuing the rescue effort tomorrow… our focus has been on those that appear the most viable and have the most chance of success,” he said.
A crew of around 60 conservationists and expert volunteers have spent days wading in the chilly waters of Macquarie Harbour, surrounded by the anguishing cries of dying whales.
“It is emotional,” said rescuer Sam Thalmann.
“There are animals swimming around, they are vocalising. We can see the bonds and the pairings within them.”
Pilot whales—which can grow up to six metres (20 feet) long and weigh a tonne—are highly social.