A North Atlantic right whale surfaces on Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts, Monday, March 27, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaPilot whales have been involved in several high-profile mass strandings in Australia. In 2022, 230 pilot whales stranded on Tasmania’s west coast, while a stranding event in 2018 involved 150 pilot whales in Hamelin Bay, Western Australia.A dramatic rescue operation is currently underway off the coast of Western Australia as authorities and volunteers scramble to save 46 pilot whales stranded on a beach. Overnight reports confirmed 51 whales have already died despite the efforts of rescue teams.The distressing incident began late Monday, when the whales started to gather in the ocean near Cheynes Beach, approximately 60 kilometers east of Albany. By Tuesday afternoon, the situation grew dire as the whales started stranding themselves along the shore, prompting fears of a mass stranding event.Throughout the night, officials from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) along with dedicated volunteers closely monitored the whales, braving challenging weather conditions in the hopes of saving as many of the marine mammals as possible. Beyond PoliticsStudy Reveals Why Whales Roll on Seafloor22 April, 15:37 GMTWhile overwhelmed by the public’s desire to help, DBCA South Coast regional manager Peter Hartley emphasized that they currently have sufficient personnel at the scene and advised the public to stay away from the beach, which has been closed to facilitate the rescue efforts.»I understand the public’s concern at this time, but we presently have sufficient numbers of staff and volunteers,» said Hartley.With 46 whales are still alive, the focus of the rescue operation has shifted towards guiding the remaining animals back into the water and urging them to swim towards deeper waters where they have the best chance of survival. The rescue teams remain optimistic about the outcome but acknowledge the urgency of the situation, as time is of the essence once the whales come ashore.
Whale strandings are complex events, and marine scientists are still trying to fully understand the causes behind them. One hypothesis is that tightly bonded social structures within whale pods can lead to group stranding when one sick individual becomes stranded.
Navigational issues and following each other, especially in the presence of predators like orcas, have also been suggested as potential contributing factors.