230 whales stranded in Australia’s Tasmania, second stranding in days

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About 230 whales stranded on the coast of Australia’s southernmost state, Tasmania, on Wednesday, just days after 14 sperm whales were found on an island off the state’s northwest coast.

The animals appear to be pilot whales and are stranded on Ocean Beach and a sandy expanse in nearby Macquarie Harbor on the state’s west coast, Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment said.

This handout image provided by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania shows an aerial view of a massive whale stranding near Macquarie Heads on September 21, 2022 in Strahan, Australia. (Getty/TBEN)

It appears that about half of the animals are still alive, the department said, adding that a team from the department’s Marine Conservation Program was assembling whale rescue equipment and headed for the area.

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The public has been urged to stay away, as whales are a protected species, even once they have died, and it is an offense to interfere with a carcass, according to the department.

The stranding is the second such event in days after the 14 sperm whales were discovered Monday afternoon on King Island, in the Bass Strait between Tasmania’s north coast and Melbourne. All were dead at the time the stranding was reported, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. a spokesman for the department Tuesday.

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Beaching of whales is not uncommon in Tasmania, although researchers still don’t know why the animals themselves beach.

Australia saw its largest-ever mass stranding in 2020, when some 470 long-fingered finches were found on sandbars in Macquarie Harbor. All but about 100 animals died, according to TBEN.

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