Entire pod of 97 pilot whales perishes in Australia cetacean stranding
Pilot whales are members of the dolphin family and are the cetacean species most vulnerable to large strandings.
Almost 100 pilot whales have tragically died after beaching themselves in Western Australia, as reported by wildlife officials on Thursday.
The pod of 97 long-finned pilot whales had gathered in shallow waters off Cheynes Beach, located about 400 kilometers southeast of Perth, on Tuesday, with many of them becoming stranded on the sand. By the following morning, 51 of the whales had already perished.
A large-scale rescue operation involving 250 volunteers and 100 wildlife experts was initiated in a desperate attempt to save the remaining whales. Despite the valiant efforts of people in wetsuits, kayaks, and surfboards trying to guide the whales to deeper waters, the majority of the pod re-beached themselves. On welfare grounds, the decision was made to euthanize the remaining whales.
Peter Hartley, the incident controller, expressed his gratitude for the enormous efforts of the rescuers but acknowledged that it was one of the most challenging decisions in his 34 years of wildlife management.
On July 17, a pod of about 50 pilot whales died after collapsing on a Scottish shore.
Mass strandings of whales remain a natural phenomenon that scientists have yet to fully comprehend, but pilot whales, being highly social creatures, may follow their pod-mates into dangerous situations.