Beached pilot whaleInternationalIndiaAfricaWildlife experts, while speculating on the cause of the beaching, could not determine a definitive reason behind the tragic event. Officials suggested it might be a result of stress or illness within the pod, but the exact cause remains a mystery.A pod of nearly 100 pilot whales died on a remote beach near the former whaling station of Albany in the Western Australia state after rescue efforts proved unsuccessful, officials confirmed.A total of 45 pilot whales were euthanized on Wednesday after earlier efforts by a group of environmentalist and volunteers to lead them back to deeper waters failed. This was in addition to 52 whales from the same pod that died the day prior after the beaching incident.Officials were forced to fall back on euthanizing the remaining whales after the survivors repeatedly returned to the shallows after rescuers attempted to guide them further out to sea.The Western Australia Parks and Wildlife Service, responsible for the rescue efforts, expressed their gratitude to all the officials and volunteers who tried to save the whales. As a storm with wind and rain lashed the beach on Wednesday afternoon, two volunteers had to be treated for hypothermia.Peter Hartley, a manager from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions, who was overseeing the response, described the decision to euthanize the survivors as incredibly challenging.»Probably one of the hardest decisions of my 34 years of wildlife management. Really, really difficult… It was a considered and well thought out decision. And you know, we thank the support of the … veterinarians that assisted with the assessments and the advice that they gave me to make that decision,» said Hartley.The authorities plan to conduct further research on the incident, with the collected samples providing valuable insights into the whales’ behavior and genetics. Scientists from around the world have already shown interest in studying the footage to learn more about the pod and their circumstances.
Pilot whales are known for their social nature and the complex familial bonds they maintain within their pods from birth.
Drone footage released by the state government depicted the heart-wrenching scene of the whales clustering and forming a heart shape before becoming stranded on the beach.
The unfortunate event echoes a similar incident that took place last September, where approximately 200 pilot whales died after a pod stranded itself on the remote west coast of Tasmania, an island state off Australia’s southeastern coast. Additionally, the following month, nearly 500 pilot whales stranded themselves on two remote beaches in New Zealand, resulting in a heartbreaking loss of life.