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Cleanup underway to remove nearly 150 dead whales as desperate volunteers try to save survivors

A cleanup is underway as 100 volunteers desperately try to find survivors among the 150 whales beached on the Western Australian coast.     

A massive excavator crane was pictured lifting dead whales weighing up to four tonnes onto the back of a truck on the weekend. 

Surviving whales were also loaded onto trucks using a hoist, before travelling along the beach to deeper water where they were taken out to sea.

Only a few of the whales stranded on Friday at Hamelin Bay, 300km south west of Perth, are still alive. 

 

A cleanup is underway as 100 volunteers (pictured) desperately try to find survivors among the 150 whales

The whales were spotted by distressed locals who captured images of the stranded animals washed up on the picturesque coastal waters

The whales were spotted by distressed locals who captured images of the stranded animals washed up on the picturesque coastal waters

Parks and Wildlife Services advised that of seven whales released into the water, three were re-stranded while the other four are believed to still be in the water. 

Three whales that returned to the beach were euthanised as distressed volunteers did their best to help.  

One volunteer told Nine News she was absolutely devastated, while another spoke of his efforts to save surviving whales on the beach.

A crane was brought in to take surviving whales to deeper water for release to the sea

A crane was brought in to take surviving whales to deeper water for release to the sea

‘I am trying to keep them cool, and keep them wet for now, and we are just waiting hopefully for some machinery or something to get them back  in the water at some point,’ he said.

The beach remained closed from Hamelin Caravan Park to North Point as authorities warned of the ‘increased shark risk to public safety’ caused by the whale effluent. 

Incident controller Jeremy Chick said the department had conducted a comprehensive sea, air and ground search and had not found any additional whales.

‘All the deceased whales have been removed at the main stranding site and the additional outlying sites. 

‘There are two deceased whales remaining in inaccessible terrain and a plan is being developed to remove them as soon as logistically possible.’   

Only a few of the short-finned pilot whales survived on Hamelin Bay, 10km north of Augusta on the Western Australia coast

Only a few of the short-finned pilot whales survived on Hamelin Bay, 10km north of Augusta on the Western Australia coast

Dead whales were loaded on trucks and taken to a landfill site in Western Australia. Parks and Wildlife officers have taken specimens from the dead as they continue to investigate 

Dead whales were loaded on trucks and taken to a landfill site in Western Australia. Parks and Wildlife officers have taken specimens from the dead as they continue to investigate 

Dozens of whales were washed up on a Western Australian beach and survivors were unable to get back in the ocean

Dozens of whales were washed up on a Western Australian beach and survivors were unable to get back in the ocean

To take those surviving whales back into the open sea rescuers used cranes and hammocks to carry them a kilometre down the beach and volunteers were seen in the water in an attempt to coax the animals back into the water, according to the ABC.  

Distressed locals in Hamelin Bay rushed to the seafront when they spotted the 150 short-finned pilot whales, some of which had crashed into rocks on the beach. 

One woman told the Daily Mail Australia when they initially got to the beach, they assumed all the animals were dead before noticing some were still desperately trying to get back into the water.

A warning was issued for people not to get in the water as concern spread about sharks circling the area

A warning was issued for people not to get in the water as concern spread about sharks circling the area

But the whales who survived were caught on blood-soaked rocks or stuck behind dead animals, unable to move.

A warning has been issued for people not to get in the water, with experts fearing deadly sharks could encroach on the shoreline to feast on the carcasses. 

‘A shark advice has been issued due to multiple whale carcasses being reported at Hamelin Bay, near the town of Augusta,’ the shark advice alert from the Western Australian government said. 

It is not known why the whales washed up on the beach, but it is thought they were following subtropical waters around the coast. 

The species typically follow one alpha when finding the warmer waters, and it seems it’s relatively common for the leader to misjudge shoreline and end up on the beach en masse, according to the Telegraph.

The March 23 incident is the biggest mass stranding in Western Australia since 1996 when 320 long-finned pilot whales beached themselves.

In 2009, nine years ago to the exact day, more than 80 whales and dolphins died in a similar case in Hamelin Bay. 

Rescue workers can be seen in the background working to free the whales who had washed up on the beach in Western Australia

Rescue workers can be seen in the background working to free the whales who had washed up on the beach in Western Australia

Three years ago there was another incident involving 20 whales who all died after becoming stranded in Bunbury in south Western Australia.   

Leaarne Hollowood from Margaret River jumped out of bed to the scene when she heard about the whales on Friday morning. 

She described the dreadful moment she discovered the whales swept up on the beach.

‘It was horrific, at first I thought they were all dead and that it was just the waves moving them around,’  she told Daily Mail Australia.

Leaarne Hollowood from Margaret River jumped out of bed to the scene when she heard about the whales on Friday morning 

Leaarne Hollowood from Margaret River jumped out of bed to the scene when she heard about the whales on Friday morning 

‘As we got closer, I realised a lot were still alive, trapped on the rocks or  in front of other dead whales, I just felt so helpless.’ 

‘I just wanted to comfort them and help them…I couldn’t bare to watch and not help, a lot of tears.’ 

Ms Hollowood said she would be going back to the scene on Friday afternoon to help. 

‘Heading back there now, she said…apparently they need more people with wetsuits to help,’ she said. 

Parks and Wildlife asked the public to keep a look out and report any further stranded whales to the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.   

'I just wanted to comfort them and help them...I couldn't bare to watch and not help, a lot of tears,' said Ms Hollowood 

‘I just wanted to comfort them and help them…I couldn’t bare to watch and not help, a lot of tears,’ said Ms Hollowood 

Incident controller Jeremy Chick said the department had conducted a comprehensive sea, air and ground search and had not found any additional or live whales

Incident controller Jeremy Chick said the department had conducted a comprehensive sea, air and ground search and had not found any additional or live whales

A map showing the location where the whales were found at at Hamelin Bay, 10km north of Augusta on the Western Australian coast

A map showing the location where the whales were found at at Hamelin Bay, 10km north of Augusta on the Western Australian coast



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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