Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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HomeLatestMore than 200 whales have died on a beach in Tasmania, and...

More than 200 whales have died on a beach in Tasmania, and one photo shows the scale of the mass stranding


  • About 230 pilot whales have washed up on Tasmania’s west coast in Australia.
  • Only 35 of the stranded whales survived.
  • In 2020, some 470 whales were stranded in the same location.

Around 230 pilot whales were found stranded on the west coast of Tasmania in Australia on Wednesday. Despite the rescue efforts of marine conservation experts, about 200 of the stranded whales have died.

“We’ve identified those animals with the best chance of survival,” Brandon Clarke, a representative with the department of natural resources and environment, said in a September 22 interview recording shared with Insider. Only 35 whales survived the stranding, Clarke added.

A photo taken on September 21 and released by Tasmania’s department of natural resources and environment shows the scale of the crisis, with dozens whales stretching along the beach and just barely covered in water.

While most of the whales were stranded on Ocean Beach, a number of whales were stranded on a sand flat inside Macquarie Harbour, per a government press release.

“Those animals that were alive, we kept them comfortable, we provided them whatever shade we could,” Clarke said. He added that the “surf out there in Ocean Beach” has been “taking its toll” on whales who inhabit Tasmania’s west coast.

n this handout image provided by Huon Aquaculture, whales are seen beached along the shoreline on September 21, 2022 in Strahan, Australia.

In this handout image provided by Huon Aquaculture, whales are seen beached along the shoreline on September 21, 2022 in Strahan, Australia.


Contributor/Huon Aquaculture/Getty Images



The incident comes two years after Australia experienced its worst whale stranding in history. In 2020, some 470 pilot whales were stranded in the same location on the west coast of Tasmania, and over 350 of these whales died, Reuters reported, citing local officials. Some 111 whales were rescued.

“Unfortunately we do have a high mortality rate in this particular stranding, primarily due to the exposed conditions out on Ocean Beach,” Clarke said of the mass stranding on Wednesday, adding that in the 2020 incident, the whales were stranded in “sheltered waters.”

It’s not been officially determined why mass strandings occur on Tasmania’s west coast, but wildlife scientist Vanessa Pirotta believes the reason might be ecological in nature.

“The fact that we’ve seen similar species, the same time, in the same location, reoccurring in terms of stranding at that same spot might provide some sort of indication that there might be something environmental here,” Pirotta, who specializes in marine mammals, told the Associated Press. 

Mass stranding can also occur when a group of whales are “led astray by an unwell individual” or simply “startled by something in the water,” Pirotta said in an interview with The New York Times.

A day before the mass stranding occurred, 14 sperm whales were found dead on King Island in Tasmania, per the AP, citing local officials. Australian wildlife authorities are investigating what killed the whales, per the report.

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