Crews to haul dead whales off Tasmanian coast

Crews to haul dead whales off Tasmanian coast

Crews are expected to begin to haul the carcasses of around 200 dead whales out to sea after a mass stranding on Tasmania's west coast.

A pod of about 230 pilot whales became stranded on Wednesday on Ocean Beach, west of Strahan, with a smaller number stranded in nearby Macquarie Harbour. It was almost two years to the day and the same location as Australia's biggest whale stranding event, when 470 pilot whales were stranded and 380 died in the same location in September 2020.

Rescuers were still watching a small number of surviving whales inside Macquarie Harbour on Saturday, and tried to free two that were stranded in shallower waters.

Volunteers were set to remove whale carcasses from Ocean Beach for at-sea burials on Sunday morning, depending on weather conditions.

They hoped to clear the beach and wrap up their mission.

Brendon Clark, incident controller Brendon Clark said that we are looking at rationalising crews and resources as we believe we can scale back the operation given the positive results that have been achieved over the last two to three days.

There were no remaining surviving animals on Ocean Beach as of Saturday, he said.

Through extensive aerial and vessel surveillance of Macquarie Harbour, he said that a small number of whales were found within the harbour precinct.

Crews are going to tow the whale carcasses out to sea via longlines and release them in very deep water.

Clark thanked volunteers and salmon companies in Strahan who helped with the removal. He said that the number of crews in the area will be reduced over the next few days.

He said it was a challenging incident and that it had an impact on not only the personnel involved, but also the local community.

We believe that we have done so well and we have been conscious of trying to minimise that impact.