June 17, 2024

Australia Euthanized 43 Stranded Whales After 2-Day Rescue Effort

  • 43 pilot whales were euthanized after they were stranded on an Australian beach for two days.
  • Rescuers had brought them back into the water, but they were stranded again.
  • Officials described it as a difficult decision but the best one for the animals’ welfare.

Wildlife officials in Australia euthanized 43 pilot whales that were stranded after attempts to move them into deeper waters failed.

The Parks and Wildlife Service of Western Australia said on Thursday that its officials decided, after veterinarians assessed the whales, that the most appropriate and humane course of action was to “euthanize the 43 remaining whales to avoid prolonging their suffering.”

The whales were part of a larger group of almost 100 whales that were stranded at Cheynes Beach on Tuesday, the Parks and Wildlife Service said. Fifty-one perished overnight on Wednesday, according to reports.

Parks and Wildlife Service personnel and volunteers had tried to move the whales that were still alive back out into deeper waters on Wednesday, with the group sharing videos of people holding the animals in the sea as they were “in the water preparing to safely lead the 45 whales into deeper waters.”

 

It said at the time that “staff and volunteers, with the assistance of small vessels and surf skis, will attempt to safely and gently move the animals into deeper waters, giving them the best chance of survival.”

But in a later update, it said the whales had become re-stranded “further along the beach.” It added that veterinarians would keep assessing the whales and “advise of the most appropriate course of action to ensure the most humane outcome for the whales.”

The next update revealed the decision to end their lives.

A man holds a pilot whale in the water, with the camera showing both above and below the water

In this photo provided by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, a rescuer tends to a long-finned pilot whale, July 26, 2023, after nearly 100 whales beached themselves at Cheynes Beach east of Albany, Australia.

DBCA via AP



“It was a difficult decision for all involved however the welfare of the whales had to take precedence,” the Parks and Wildlife Service said.

Tractors later removed the bodies, and volunteers who tried to save them struggled to leave, The Guardian reported.

Wildlife researcher Vanessa Parotta told CNN that it’s unclear why the whales were stranded.

“It could be that they are trying to avoid a predator, like a killer whale,” she said.

Parotta added that they could also have been following one of the pod members who was lost as they are “very social and dynamic with strong bonds with others.”

Peter Hartley, from the Australian government’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, told reporters that the decision was “one of the hardest” in his 34 years working in wildlife management, CNN reported.

“We know that whale stranding is a natural phenomenon. But we gave it a good go, spending the whole day in the water to give them to best opportunity,” he said.

Earlier this month a pod of 55 pilot whales died after a mass stranding on a beach in Scotland. A marine life charity said it may have happened after they tried to help a female suffering complications while giving birth. 

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