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More than 200 whales beached in Tasmania; rescue efforts underway

HOBART, AUSTRALIA (AP) – About 230 whales have been stranded on Tasmania’s west coast, just days after 14 sperm whales were found beached on an island off the south-eastern coast.

The pod stranded on Ocean Beach appears to be pilot whales and at least half are presumed to still be alive, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania said yesterday.

Marine Conservation Programme team was assembling whale rescue gear and heading to the area, the department said.

A resident told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that the whales were visible near the entrance to Macquarie Harbour and described the stranding as a “massive event”.

West Coast Council General Manage David Midson urged people to stay clear.

“Whales are a protected species, even once deceased, and it is an offense to interfere with a carcass,” the Environment Department said.

Griffith University marine scientist Olaf Meynecke said it’s unusual for sperm whales to wash ashore. He said that warmer temperatures could also be changing the ocean currents and moving the whales’ traditional food.

The stranded whales on Ocean Beach, near Strahan, Australia. PHOTO: AP
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