Whale rescue efforts take place at Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania, Australia September 22,2020 in this picture obtained from social media.
BILAL RASHID VIA REUTERS
At least 380 whales have died in a mass stranding in southern Australia, officials said Wednesday, with rescuers managing to free just a few dozen survivors. Nearly the entire pod of 460 long-finned pilot whales stuck in Macquarie Harbour, on the rugged and sparsely populated west coast of Tasmania, has now perished.
“We have got a more accurate count and we can confirm that 380 whales are dead,” Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka said.
“There’s around 30 left still alive but the good news is that we have saved 50,” he said, describing the rescue effort as emotionally taxing.
The first of the giant mammals were found on Monday, sparking a major effort to free them from a sandbar only accessible by boat.
Officials will now turn their attention to the disposal of the whale carcasses, with assessors arriving onsite Wednesday to create a clean-up plan.
“As time goes on (the whales) do become more fatigued so their chances of survival reduces,” Deka said. “But we’ll keep working as long as there’s live animals at the site.”