Rescuers on the spot of Australia’s worst-ever mass whale stranding event reportedly started to euthanize the animals without having any options left, as the situation continues to become distressful.
The forced euthanasia comes a day after 380 pilot whales were reported dead from Tasmanian Island on Wednesday after nearly 100 were earlier found dead on Tuesday.
Up until Thursday, the group of 60 Australian rescuers has been able to save 88 pilot whales, AFP reports, as the death toll is predicted to rise with the window of further rescue draws to a gradual close.
Rescuers killed four whales on mercy grounds after four days of tireless efforts, and many rescued whales returning back to the pod to reunite, stranding for the second time.
“That’s based purely on animal welfare grounds,” said Tasmanian environment department marine biologist Kris Carlyon, adding: “We’ve got a few others that we currently giving a veterinary assessment.”
Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka said there are chances they’ll be continuing their rescue efforts tomorrow as well, making it to the exhausting fifth day of tending one of the worst beaching cases in history.
He said the focus is now on identifying those animals which could have the best chance of success, adding that having been surrounded by the dying cries of whales all over has been ’emotional.’
Pilot whales that can grow up to six meters and weight more than a ton are highly social and can stick to their pods for a lifetime. Hence some were returning back to the pods even after being left in the deep waters.
As of now, the rescuers are focusing on saving a group of 20-25 pilot whales and escorting them back to the sea. Rescuers are also giving their best to dispose of the carcasses of the 400 dead whales.
If left on the spot, the bodies of the whales could ‘bloat and float’ which could attract sharks and other predators while causing a navigational hazard.
“The decomposition of such a large number of animals could actually affect oxygen levels in parts of the harbor, which could affect the marine life in those places,” Deka was quoted as saying by AFP.
Marine experts and whales lovers have expressed their grief at such a sorry sight where many whales were still flipping, moving, and crying out the last bits of life before passing away.
Despite the devastating, the beaching of whales is natural and has even fossil records. Scientists still don’t know the actual cause of whale stranding.