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Dozens of pilot whales are fighting for their lives after mysteriously washing ashore on Australian shores

Dozens of pilot whales have been stranded off the coast of Australia. A few hours after sightings of a herd swarming not far offshore. Officials say between 60 and 70 animals have been affected.

Pilot whales, one of the largest dolphin species, have appeared at Chaines Beach on the tip of Western Australia. Officials at Chaines Beach Caravan Park first began to witness the ordeal on Tuesday morning, when the animals were clustered about 328 feet offshore.

“What’s happening now?” the park posted on Facebook. “…I don’t know! But look at this pod of whales just 100 meters from the beach.”

A pilot whale stranded on Chaines Beach, Australia, July 25, 2023. This still image taken from a social media video.

Allan Marsh/Chains Beach Calaba

At first, the pilot whales were all grouped together in a narrow circle facing inwards. They were soon seen lined up in narrow rows, facing the same direction. And hours later, park officials announced they were “stuck”. The video shows dozens of beached animals, many whipping their tails in the low waters of the shore as they try to return to the sea.

The park said the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Tourism was on the scene to help the whales.of Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Service Approximately 60 to 70 long-finned pilot whales were announced to have run aground on Tuesday afternoon local time. Officials with the group said they would remain on the beach overnight to monitor the animals.

“We now have a team of experienced staff, including Perth Zoo veterinarians and marine animal specialists, along with specialized equipment such as vessels and slings,” said a wildlife official. “Our team has camped on the beach overnight and has set up a safety zone around the stranding area. Volunteers and members of the public are asked not to join the beach overnight for safety at this time.”

long-finned pilot whale According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whales live in large herds of hundreds, divided into “close-knit herds” of 10 to 20 individuals, and it’s not uncommon for them to travel in groups.

“At the surface, these whales often display a variety of active behaviors, such as raising their heads above the water and lifting their flukes out of the water and splashing them to the surface,” NOAA said. “They are also regularly seen resting and logging on the surface in chorus lines or stacked formations, sometimes approaching slow-moving vessels.”

The circumstances surrounding this particular stranding remain unclear. It may be the result of pilot whales logging together and getting too close to shore, but past pilot whale strandings have also contributed to the injury or illness of one of them.

In June, 55 long-eared pilot whales became stranded in scotland. Sarah Dolman, a senior marine activist with the Environmental Research Agency, said Tuesday that a post-mortem examination revealed that one of the female pilot whales was having trouble giving birth in these conditions.

“This may have caused the pod to land,” she said of the incident. “Pilot whales are incredibly social and live in tight-knit groups. Sadly, when a sick or injured pilot whale comes ashore, the rest of the colony follows.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pilot-whales-are-fighting-for-their-lives-on-australian-beach-after-mysteriously-washing-up-onshore/ Dozens of pilot whales are fighting for their lives after mysteriously washing ashore on Australian shores

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